More Broad Ave. trees to come down

Even more trees along Broad Avenue will need to come down than initially estimated by a forester, Altoona officials said.

Those are among trees radically pruned by a contractor in June in preparation for repaving by PennDOT between 24th and 31st streets.

After the contractor lopped off all limbs projecting beyond the curb on that stretch of street, the city called on the forester, who walked those blocks with city and PennDOT officials to survey the damage.

The forester recommended removal of 41 trees, pruning of 28 to correct problems and no action for nine trees, city Planning Director Lee Slusser told City Council last week.

Since then, Slusser and Public Works Director Dave Diedrich have re-examined the trees and now think between 56 and 61 trees should go, Slusser said.

PennDOT has agreed to take down all the trees the city wants removed, grind the stumps and replace those lost trees with new ones of a species ordered by the city, Slusser said.

Council just needs to state its preferences, he said.

PennDOT will coordinate with the city Shade Tree Commission on the location and type of trees to be replanted, officials said.

The new trees will be smaller than the maples they’ll be replacing, and more appropriate for curbside placement, officials said.

“Our bottom line is to make it look like before it was touched,” Diedrich said.

“The indications are they [PennDOT officials] want to make it right.”

PennDOT plans to hold a public meeting with residents, who may be able to influence the placement of trees.

Not everyone who doesn’t want a tree in front of his property, however, may get his wish, because there’s a community interest in getting enough good trees back on the street, Slusser indicated.

“Streets without trees tend to look like a concrete jungle,” Slusser said.

The work can’t begin until November, because of regulations to protect bats, according to Diedrich.

PennDOT doesn’t plan to repave until next spring, at which time it will repair curbs as needed, Diedrich said.

The work may become part of a $1.05 million, multi-year curb and sidewalk project, according to Diedrich.

The state will pay for access ramps, because it’s a state route, while the city will pay for the curb and sidewalk replacements, using Community Development Block Grant funds from its annual allocation and perhaps grant money from the state’s competitive Keystone Communities Program, Slusser said.

A recent survey seemed to indicate that more than half the residents are low-to-moderate income, which would establish CDBG eligibility, Slusser said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.