MOUNT VERNON, Iowa — It’s only three blocks of street reconstruction, but it’s built some controversy in Mount Vernon.
August 22nd, Mount Vernon started reconstruction on a portion of Seventh Street from Fifth to Eighth Avenue. Crews will be repaving, doing water and sewer work. But with it comes tree removal.
Officials said in order to do the work six city-owned trees in the right of way along the street have to be cut down.
Even though Richard Peterson doesn’t live on 7th, he’s sorry to see them go. Tree-lined streets, he said, help make Mount Vernon unique.
“We sell it. People like this town because of that kind of character at this place,” said Peterson.
Peterson isn’t alone. Many residents were at a city council meeting August 18th voicing their trees worries too. Some said the trees are historic. Others said they provide property value, shade, reduce energy costs.
To the city, the trees are obstacles that need to come down in order to do a much needed fix up of Seventh.
“It’s deteriorated … The only real fix is to reconstruct,” said Dan Boggs, city engineer.
Boggs said crews are taking down the trees to give heavy equipment space to work and because power polls need to be moved back to make way for a new water main.
“The trees — I am sorry, you want water? You know, we’ve got to change the water main. We’ve got to update it,” said Mayor James Moore.
Moore said the city is trying to listen and work with concerned residents. He noted a few property owners on Seventh have actually asked the city to remove three of the six trees, in the past.
City officials have also agreed to no longer widen intersections to ease a worry that Seventh is being prepped for more truck traffic.
The project is expected to be complete in October.
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