Neighbors Regret Losing Old Trees for New Sidewalk

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. --  Huge, historic trees have been cut down to make room for sidewalks in Kansas City's Manheim Park neighborhood, and many neighbors say they were unprepared for the loss of their neighborhood's cherished trees.

"I'm in tears. I've been crying all morning. This is not something that I got part of this project for, to have trees cut down. This is the green impact zone," said Franny Knight.

As part of the green impact zone, Manheim Park, in the area of 44th and Forrest, received federal stimulus money to pay for new sidewalks and curbs and gutters. They city determined 72 trees needed to come down at a cost of more than $200,000.

Knight woke up to find several majestic trees in her neighborhood missing. There are dozens of others marked with a glowing "X" that are also supposed to come down.

"It's unbelievable that this is happening. I just can't believe it," she said.

Like many in historic Manheim Park, Franny knew the neighborhood was getting some new sidewalks, but she had no idea that would require so many trees to be cut down. Neighbors say many of those old sycamore trees are part of the character of where they live and should be preserved.

"I want sidewalks and I want sidewalks to be built with thought and consideration to work with our existing neighborhood landscape. Our landscape is defined by these trees," said Bill Drummond. "We have probably some of the best trees in the city along this street."

Now that the city's Parks and Recreation Department has learned of the chopping, tree removal has been halted. A city spokesman said that someone from Parks and Rec should have evaluated each tree before they were chopped down, to see if any could or should be spared.

"Unfortunately it's one of those things where there was an error in the process," said Dennis Gagnon with the city's public information office.

The error happened, he said, because of a vacant position at City Hall.

Gagnon said city foresters should complete their evaluation of trees on the cut-down list in a couple of days. He said it's possible that none will be spared because of sidewalks, but says at least the proper process will be followed.

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