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Council plans renewal of High Street trees

May 9th, 2014
[by David Armstrong]

The decline and age of some of the street trees within Motueka is of some concern to Council, which is calling for a staged renewal and replacement programme over the next three years.

TDC's horticultural officer Kathy Curnow has written a report to be presented to the Motueka Community Board at its meeting next Tuesday, in which she recommends gradual replacement of the golden elms in High Street and changes in two other locations.

The Community Board will also hear about a joint project between TDC's Engineering and Parks and Facilities departments to "survey the current trees in the urban road reserve areas and better manage the renewal and maintenance of these assets".

Kathy's report focuses on three specific areas: High Street central business district from Eginton Street to Whakarewa Street, High Street from King Edward Street to Wharf Road, and Tudor Street.

The most controversial aspect will probably be the continuing replacement of the CBD's golden elms by Parrotia persica, which have already been planted in sites where trees have been removed in the past due to failures.

"The large golden elms along High Street are a significant feature of the urban landscape environment," the report says. "In recent years there has been some debate about the trees and the common problems experienced with the presence of trees in the urban environment."

They provide many benefits, such as supplying food and habitat for wildlife, purifying air, abating noise, supplying shade, cooling air temperatures, intercepting stormwater, and reducing runoff.

"They also provide many aesthetic benefits that make the built urban environment a more pleasant place to be. There is much research to the benefits of retaining trees in a shopping area. In the busy Motueka tourist season the shading of the trees is a particular advantage to the town.

"It is also acknowledged that there are some negative aspects to trees being in a streetscape. Parks and Facilities and Engineering staff have worked together to mitigate the effects of the general nuisance factors of the current treescape in High Street; blossom and leaf fall are a particular concern for some business owners.

"Increased leaf pickups occur at these times and are varied according to requirements. Regular trimming for road and pedestrian corridor clearance occurs during the year."

Kathy points out that the potential for redevelopment of the streetscape renewal of street trees was flagged in 2010. "While this project has been delayed there is still a need to manage the existing treescape."

With a change the sites of the pedestrian crossings in Motueka coming this year, some trees that have been contributing to some sight line problems around the present crossings may be retained.

The report says it is better to implement a staged approach to declining street tree stock, rather than all in one hit. The cost of the replacement can be stretched over several years, and higher risk trees can be dealt with first.

The proposed work starts with the removal of the golden elm on the corner of Pah Street (outside Mango restaurant), replacing it with two Parrotia perscia, one each on Pah and High Street frontage. Likewise, one golden elm on the Motty Malones corner.

Also slated for this year is the replanting of the verge outside 48 Tudor Street with Magnolia Sp. This would be followed in 2015 by the replanting of trees under power lines outside 50 Tudor Street with a species of Magnolia or Acer sp. This will be dependent on the result of consultation with residents and Network Tasman.

From 2015 to 2017 the remaining golden elms along the High Street CBD will be evaluated.

Kathy says some members of the public will be concerned about the removal of large trees in the area, but she believes that "effective consultation with the Motueka Community Board, Our Town Motueka and immediate neighbours to the trees will mitigate this once there is an understanding of the reasons behind the renewal of the trees".

"Not removing all the trees at one time may not be supported by some business owners. Again effective consultation with business owners via Our Town Motueka may alleviate these concerns."

The renewal programme of the existing trees in the High Street CBD and Tudor Street, if implemented in the proposed staged approach, will be carried out under the existing maintenance budget for street trees.


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