LEMOORE — Fox Street in Lemoore is lined with trees on both sides of the road that runs north and south. A large number of trees on a portion of the east side of the street will be removed after causing damage to the sidewalk, and some residents are concerned it will change the aesthetic of the street.
At the Lemoore City Council meeting held Tuesday, council discussed the “remediation” of Fox Street. Public Works Director Nathan Olson told council after doing a walkthrough of the street’s sidewalk, it was determined 70 trees must be removed from the east side of the street, where cars travel northbound between Cinnamon Drive and Hanford-Armona Road.
“We have to fix it,” Olson said. “We know about it, we’ve known about it for years and we haven’t done anything about it. It’s time to fix it.”
Olson said Fox Street is a heavily traveled road and one that also gets a lot of foot traffic. He said the trees that line the street have increasingly become an issue because the roots are causing the sidewalk to uplift.
Olson said work has been done to fix the sidewalks before, but it has gotten to a point where more intensive work needs to be done, including cutting down and taking out the 70 trees and stumps. He said a majority of the trees are pines that take up the whole area between the curb and sidewalk.
“Those trees have damaged curb and gutter and sidewalk beyond repair and they need to be removed or we’re just going to keep fixing [the sidewalk] as a result of these trees being there.” Olson told the council.
During the public comments section of this discussion, Lemoore Chamber of Commerce CEO Jenny MacMurdo stood and addressed the council about her reservations to this work being done. MacMurdo said the street is the most beautiful in town and she worried it might affect property values or change the aesthetic of the street.
MacMurdo also wondered aloud if residents were informed about the number of trees that would be taken out and how it might look when work is done. She noted it was hers and many other residents’ favorite street to travel because it is shady and beautiful.
In an interview Thursday, Chris Brazil, co-owner of the Ramblin’ Rose Florist shop in Lemoore, said loosing that many trees on one street is a “pity” because the curvy Fox Street is one of the streets in town that everybody loves.
Brazil said there’s not always a lot of green space in cities, and he would like nice greenery to be saved as much as possible. He said not only residents will notice when the trees are gone, but so will visitors to the city and he doesn’t want to see the aesthetic of the street compromised.
Brazil said he knows there are issues with the sidewalk that have come up in the past; he just implores the city to take out only the trees that are causing real trouble. He said he can only hope the whole area doesn’t become bare after the work is completed.
The scope of the work includes removing the trees and grinding the stumps, and replacing 11,000 square feet of sidewalk. Initially, Olson said the department was just going to repair the areas that needed fixing, but when the area was inspected by contractors, they realized none of the sidewalk met Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and was cause for “serious trip hazards.”
“There’s a lot of potential liabilities out there,” Olson said to council. “It’s not safe for passage.”
During the walkthrough of the street’s sidewalk, Olson said if the roots of a tree were visible and uplifting the sidewalk, then it was determined that tree had to be removed. He said the east side of the street will have a few trees left after work is completed, but most will be gone.
Councilwoman Holly Blair asked Olson at the meeting whether residents were informed of the work and if their input was sought. Olson said when he went out to look at the sidewalks, the general consensus was that residents were happy work was finally going to be done and gave an example that one homeowner even had her pool damaged by a tree’s roots.
Olson said the pine trees were the wrong type to plant near the sidewalk in the first place, and said the contract bid for the repair work does not include replanting trees. He said grass will be put in place of the trees for now, but the plan is to plant more trees at an unspecified future date where residents can then have input.
“This bid isn’t about a beautification of what’s there,” Olson told Blair. “This is about correcting a hazard to the city and the employees that are using that walkway. It’s not passable, it really isn’t. It’s in that bad of shape.”
Olson said northbound traffic on Fox Street will be routed around the work, but southbound traffic will still be available and homeowners will have lateral access to get to their homes. The work will only take place on the east sidewalk of the street, but Olson said there are areas on the west sidewalk that are also impassable and he would like to do work on that side in the future.
The motion to award the contract bid for the work was passed 3-1, with yes votes from Mayor Ray Madrigal and councilmembers Dave Brown and Jeff Chedester, and a no vote from Blair. Councilman Eddie Neal was absent.
The work will cost $300,000 and Olson expects everything to be done within three months of when work begins, which has not been determined yet.