Downtown Brookings, we can save the trees

Attention, students and friends at SDSU. Perhaps you read the recent Brookings Register article declaring that “Trees May Have to Go” (April 15) in a proposed widening of Sixth St. Studying the state Department of Transportation’s perspective on the subject, I sense that among the project engineers, “may” is already a “will.”

 The engineers argue that cutting down 39 old trees and eliminating boulevards is in the interest of the public. Which “public,” I wonder. Are you part of that public? Would it be in your interest to lose those trees and boulevards? Brookings Mayor Tim Reed, the Brookings City Council, the Brookings Historic Preservation Committee and city residents like myself have raised grave concerns with the DOT about the project. Do you share our concerns? 

 The engineers say they want to widen Sixth Street so that its appearance is consistent with “the rest of the completed route through the city.” Is the public clamoring for such consistency? Do we actually want the main thoroughfare through the historic district to look as it does in commercial zones? What do you think?

The engineers say that widening Sixth Street would lead to fewer accidents. We do have occasional accidents along this stretch of Sixth. But perhaps we could remedy that in a way more friendly not only to trees but pedestrians, homes, families, businesses, etc. What about lowering the speed limit in the district? Easing traffic volume on Sixth by changing existing traffic patterns on a couple of adjacent streets and becoming a more bike-friendly city? 

Finally, the engineers argue that we might as well cut down these beautiful trees because one day we’ll likely lose many of them anyway, either to disease or root damage caused by construction. I’ll grant their point that trees do eventually die. I also believe we should tend them well until they do. In the meantime, let’s enjoy them, while perhaps planting even more trees in the boulevards. We need a next generation of trees, and it will take considerable years to grow them, so we’d best get started.

The project engineers believe “the proper design” for Sixth Street requires the removal of all the trees. Have you yet heard any compelling reasons why? To me, their “proper design” seems downright “improper.” But I’ll go to the public hearing on April 28 in good faith. I’ll listen there to what the engineers have to say. But I’ll also speak up, not only as a resident whose property—whose home—will be affected by the proposed project, but also as someone who values history, beauty, the magnificence of a single centuries-old tree (let alone 39 of them) as well as public safety. 

 I invite all of you to join me in signing an online petition to the DOT posted on petitions.moveon.org, urging the engineers to avoid killing the trees. We’ll present the petition to the DOT engineers at the public hearing and trust that they do, in fact, hear our concerns.

 

 

Shaheed Shihan is majoring in mathematics. He can be reached at [email protected]