I Wanna Know

PW exposes the tricks, scams and truth about the powers that be.

By Heather Duffy
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 5, 2004

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Q: What's happening to the trees in Rittenhouse Square? Last year they cut down three or four trees, in addition to the one that fell down in a storm. This spring they've cut down another five or six already. All of the trees seemed to be healthy. What's the scoop?

A: There's no one measure to determine how ill a tree needs to be before it's removed. Instead, the city's arborists examine each tree to determine the course of action--whether it needs a trim or to be removed and later replaced. The Fairmount Park Commission oversees all park and street trees in Philadelphia. There are about 2 million trees in all--250,000 of them along city streets. Trees in parks or squares are inspected daily to ensure public safety. Rittenhouse Square has undergone a number of improvements in the last year, including brick replacement and grass reseeding. And some trees have been cut down. "If they were totally removed, it was because they were diseased," says Thomas Doyle, spokesperson for the Fairmount Park Commission. "Walking along a path, you don't have the opportunity to see the trees from above. We have trees hit by lighting, and branches need to be removed before they become a hazard." The commission's arborists are each assigned a district, where they respond to citizen calls about tree service. Doyle says tree maintenance and removal is an ongoing process and that additional funds to supplement the commission's efforts to maintain the trees have been provided by the Street administration. So will more trees be planted to replace the ones that were removed? "Most definitely," says Doyle. "Whenever we take a tree down, we plant one or even two more to replace it." He adds that people can also donate money to have a tree planted. Donors can christen a tree with a plaque and a dedication ceremony. To donate funds for a tree or for more information on caring for street foliage, call the Fairmount Park Commission's Operations and Landscape Unit at 215.685.0014 or log onto www.phila.gov/fairpark.

What do you wanna know? Send queries and complaints to Heather M. Duffy at hduffy@philadelphiaweekly.com

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