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Proposal to replace High Street's golden elms

December 3rd, 2013
[by David Armstrong]

Motueka people love the trees in central High Street but the shopkeepers hate the mess they make. That's what we usually hear, but is it true? We'll find out soon, because Community Board chairman Paul Hawkes wants the issue sorted.

Paul has included as a general discussion at next Tuesday's board meeting a proposal to replace the Golden Elms with a species that makes less of a mess in spring after flower drop and autumn when the copious leaves fall.

He hopes that the Community Board will be inviting Council to its February meeting to discuss this matter first hand, but until them he wants to stimulate some debate about the issue.

"These trees have regularly been frowned upon because of their 'mess' produced at numerous times throughout the seasons," he told Motueka Online. "I have had several shop owners asking 'isn't it time that the systematic renewal of these trees undertaken?'.

Paul has asked for representation from Our Town Motueka to attend in order to pass on their thoughts on behalf of concerned shop-keeper members.

"I realise that there have been some trees replaced with alternate varieties," Paul said. "How are these growing, compared to the older existing trees, and is it timely that this be investigated?

"I personally think the trees are a stunning feature of the street. I would not agree to any removal unless suitable replacements were found and immediately replaced. There have been several suggestions already put forward for replacements to be considered.

"I think any discussion ultimately needs to be sent out for open submissions from residents as well as businesses within High Street. After all, these trees add to the ambiance of the town and needs to be preserved of bettered.

"We will have a Board discussion and I feel that input from residence as well as shop owners will be forthcoming in the form of a survey."

Community Board member and past chairman David Ogilvie is a strong advocate for retaining the Golden Elms. He told Motueka Online that "Paul's response is cautionary and reasonable".

"I think Paul recognises that many people appreciate the trees, and currently they are looking very good, suggesting again a welcome shade for our summer.

"The trees are a strong feature in our central retail area. Some retailers see the flower drop as particularly annoying, although the Council this spring contracted the street-sweepers for careful sweeps on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two to three weeks, which was very effective."

David said if the Golden Elms were to be replaced all at once, then the debate for their replacement must occur straight away, but the decision to plant the elms in the first place was taken after a lot of consultation and consideration of alternatives.

"Personally, I would retain them but do three things - lower them to 6-8 metres, extend the 3-days per week street-sweeping to include the leaf drop, and at the base of the trees some of the cobble-stones need to be removed and left as soil."

Motueka Online believes this is an issue on which all residents should have their say. You can start by using the email link below to post a comment.


Comment by Lisa Ball:
[Posted 4 December 2013]

Noooooooooo! I love the trees! It's photos like the above one that always brings a smile to my face, I feel so lucky to have such a beautiful town to call home.

So many towns are so grey and sterile looking and these trees are just beautiful! I know they can make a mess during the autumn but I agree with stepping up the sweeping plan to help solve that problem. Surely a few weeks worth of clean up is worth it in the long run when such a picturesque town is probably what helps draw the summer clientele to our lovely town?

I would be morbidly disappointed to see these trees go, unless they were replaced straight away with new trees of similar beauty, not just new young 4 foot high sticks that will take time to grow to the current sizes.

Comment by Eva Pick:
[Posted 4 December 2013]

As a Tasman District rate payer I want to state strongly, that I would much prefer my rates to go towards sweeping the street than towards the barbaric suggestion of removing this wonderful asset to the town because of 'mess'.

Update by editor:
[Posted 6 December 2013]

This article was reported on several Facebook pages, and received feedback from 16 people on two of them. Of these, 13 were totally against the idea, two for removal, and one who wouldn't mind removing these trees if others of a mature height were planted immediately.

Comment by Philip Grimmett:
[Posted 7 December 2013]

I strongly support the trees in the main street, as they support us. If they really are too messy , I suggest spraying them with concrete and painting them green!

Comment by Isobel Mosley:
[Posted 8 December 2013]

It would be terrible to remove the trees. They are about the only attractive feature on High St in the town centre and think how long they took to grow.

Comment by Andy:
[Posted 8 December 2013]

I have a love/hate relationship with the trees, on one hand they are beautiful specimens offering shade and colour to our main street, on the other we are sometimes ankle deep in the fine seed/flower they drop. In winter it is leaf drop with issues around the pedestrian crossing getting wet and slippery, drains blocking etc. Before we chop them down let's see if the council contractors after a kick up the arse can control the drops. If not it will have to be new specimen time.

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