Last Saturday ANC 2B/Dupont Circle held a rally and walk down 17th Street with city officials to review initial tree removal plans that were part of the 17th Streetscape project. Work began November 30.
The city’s initial plans called for the removal of almost all of the 35 trees between P and Riggs Streets NW on 17th. However, after the 17th Street walk, plans have been revised so that only about 10 trees will be removed from this stretch of the street.
Following is a detailed report on the Saturday walk and the city’s revised tree plans for 17th Street from Commissioner Jack Jacobson, ANC 2B-04.
From Jack Jacobson:
After pressure from residents, businesses, and the Dupont Circle ANC 2B, the District Department of Transportation’s (DDOT) director of the Urban Forestry Administration (UFA) met Saturday with neighbors and commissioners to come to an agreement on the number of trees DDOT would remove during the pending 17th Streetscape project. The neighborhood was successful in drastically reducing the number of trees slotted for removal.
When presented to the community at a November 23 meeting, DDOT surprised many when it was revealed that more than 30 of about 35 trees along 17th Street between P and Riggs Streets would be removed during the project.
After strong objections from 17th Street residents and businesses, UFA’s director, John Thomas, walked 17th Street on Saturday in the sleet and rain for over two hours. He went block by block and tree by tree to help everyone understand the health of each tree and each tree’s chances for survival during the project–potentially hazardous for the trees.
Mr. Thomas was able to inform the community of the deteriorating health of many trees that appear healthy to the untrained eye. He also explained that the streetscape project would include installation of new tree boxes and tree growth systems, which would ultimately benefit the longevity and long-term health of new trees.
Unfortunately, the system can only be installed in whole sections between curbs, i.e. between a street curb and alley curb, or between alley and driveway curbs.
Attendees of the frigid walk-through ultimately came to an agreement with Mr. Thomas and Urban Forestry to remove only 10 damaged and/or dying trees (or very young saplings that would allow additional sections of the street to accept the new and improved tree systems), retaining some 25 (est.) trees along 17th Street.
It is important to note that unexpected damage to existing trees may occur during the streetscape project. DDOT has committed to informing the community of any deviation from the plan agreed to.
DDOT will be at the Dupont Circle ANC meeting on Wednesday, December 9 and the ANC expects to vote on a resolution adopting the plan, saving the majority of 17th Street’s canopy.