SEATTLE — The City of Seattle has postponed the removal of a series of cherry trees in downtown after community pushback.
The trees were expected to be uprooted as part of construction on Pike Street between First and Second avenues. Construction began Monday, and tree removal was expected to be one of the early steps of construction.
However, the city paused removal Tuesday to listen to community members’ perspectives and consider their concerns, according to the Seattle Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects.
Heart-shaped signs attached to the trees Monday read, “U SAVE ME” and urged the public to email city council members asking them to take action and save the trees.
The office said it would meet with stakeholders in the next couple of days to listen to their comments before the work continues.
The cherry trees were planted in 1980 and are reaching the end of their normal lifespan, according to the city. Columnar sargent cherry trees are expected to remain healthy for about 20 years before their health declines. Five of the original trees have already died and been removed, according to the city.
As part of the original plan, the city was going to plant hybrid elms in the cherry trees’ place. Those trees were selected because they meet street tree standards in form, foliage density and growth rate. As part of the project development, the city said the Seattle Department of Transportation sought community feedback and heard a desire for trees with a longer lifespan that would arch over the street and frame sightlines to the Pike Place Market sign and clock as well as stay clear of pedestrian lighting.
The tree removal is part of the Pike Pine Streetscaping and Bicycle Improvements Project, which will provide street enhancements and improve east-west connections for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.