A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Park tree removal comes up before council

Written February 9th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

These two trees near the boardwalk on the Dave Clark Path are marked to be cut down. The walk will be rebuilt.

The scheduled felling of dozens of trees at Monteith Riverpark came up during Wednesday’s meeting of the Albany City Council. But nothing about the plans changed.

City Manager Peter Troedsson said cutting old trees and planting new ones is part of the city’s urban forestry program, a program that is the main reason Albany has been designated for decades as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation.

In this case, he said, 84 trees will be cut down for the Willamette Riverfront Project and 70 new ones will be planted. (The city calls it the “Waterfront Project,” as though longshoremen worked there like in the 1954 movie with Marlon Brando.)

Some of the trees to be cut are old and stately, but many others are stunted, scraggly and small.

Plans for the felling operation, scheduled before the end of February, were first reported here on Feb. 2. The local paper followed up on Feb. 6.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Councilwoman Matilda Novak said constituents had complained to her about the loss of trees. She asked that the plans be reconsidered.

Mayor Alex Johnson II countered that — among other points — the renovation of the riverfront and Monteith Path will benefit future generations.

All the riverfront trees, hundreds of them, were evaluated in 2020 by Morgan Holen & Associates, a firm of consulting arborists in Lake Oswego.

They surveyed 870 trees, of which 594 are unaffected by the riverfront project.

Of the 276 within the project area, 185 are planned to be retained, 84 are to be removed, and seven are recommended to be kept as snags or standing dead trees.

Of the trees to be removed, the consultants reported, six are smaller than 8 inches in diameter at breast height, 21 are considered invasive species such as black locust, and 57 have to go because of the proposed improvements.

As for the riverfront project itself, the council next Wednesday plans to award a contract for just under $8.4 million for construction of the changes in the park and along the path. The contract  is with K&E Excavating of Salem, previously named as the construction manager/general contractor for the work.

Albany’s urban renewal program (CARA) has budgeted $15 million for the riverfront renewal, which has two parts. Part 1 is the path and park; part 2 is renovating part of Water Avenue.

K&E Excavating expects to do both parts in one season. It expects substantial completion in November 2023.

The tree cutting should start in a couple of weeks. When it happens, watch for photos here. (hh)

28 responses to “Park tree removal comes up before council”

  1. hj.anony1 says:

    I stopped reading. At the first reason for cutting them DOWN. “Old & Stately”

    Isn’t that why we Keep Them????! Right “counsel” !



    • Joyce says:

      You’re right! On Nextdoor app and Facebook Albany Garden Share pages over 40 people have spoken out against all this tree cutting. It’s clearly not what the people want.

      • nebskram says:

        so those 40 people on nextdoor speaks as everyone? not
        if ur not an arborist you don’t get to decide if a tree is health or not

  2. Cap B. says:

    Oh, God! City of Albany, Oregon’s government….what a debacle. They give government a bad name. I hope CARA is soon over, and, Hasso, please keep us informed so we will know if the Mayor and Council are trying to start another urban renewal district, so we can storm city council meetings. I mean attend them…not storm, as in a January 6th type of insurrection.

  3. MarK says:

    Every time one of these new housing projects gets started, the first thing that goes are existing trees. It’s disgusting.

  4. Rdjourney says:

    They need a second opinion on the health trees. The erosion that will take place is going to eat up lots of that cash. I hope that are changing location for splash pad; Albany riverfront is not the place for it.

    • Dala Rouse says:

      The Splash Pad should be at Swanson Park not Monteith Park as it takes up to much of the seating for the concert. Monteith Park was built for the Concerts.

      • Matthew Calhoun says:

        Oh Dala, surely the park was there long before 1984 when the River rhythms began?

      • Dala Rouse says:

        Monteith Riverpark was built during the 12 years I served on the Council. I don’t remember if it was part of the levy that was passed to build the “Senior Center” or not. When the Parks Commission presented the plan to build the park it had a different name and the Council changed it to Monteith Riverpark as we had nothing named after the Monteiths. When I first saw the location there was a manhole way up in the area. Monteith Park is built on about 30 plus feet of fill. The fill came from all over the area and some may have come from the sanitary sewers being built along Century Drive because of the health hazard annexation.

  5. L says:

    So wrong! I can understand if there are trees which are dying and cannot be saved but to cut down so many for a damn splashpad, no, didnt vote for that and dont like it at all :( Its a park, its supposed to have trees, how can you relax in a park without trees to shade you from the hot sun? And the picnics and concerts? They are really screwing up that park.

  6. Ron Green says:

    Be careful of the word “improvements” when used by engineers.

  7. Bill Ayers says:

    Authoritarian gov’t running rampant! No consideration for the people who live here,
    The city council knows what we need and is determined to give it to us whether we want it or not!

  8. Dala Rouse says:

    It looks like the majority of the larger trees that where planted originally between Community Center and shelter are being removed for the building of a splash pad and enhanced playground. If those items where moved to Swanson Park maybe those trees could be saved. They are removing a lot of the seating for the concerts by building those two items. I hope they give out sunscreen when they move the concerts back to Monteith Park which is what it was originally built for.

  9. Hartman says:

    Will someone PLEASE remind Councilwoman Matilda Novak that trees are a renewable resource. They grow when planted. Novak is akin to the conspiracists who use their theories when they are convenient, but ignore them when they are less so. The fake-Conservatives want Oregon timber companies to be able to cut down tress without regard to endangered species, or to deteriorating watershed, or global warming. But when it comes to trees located within a constituent’s purview, these same Right Wing-Reactionary politicians kowtow to a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of tree-loving types. Given Novak’s usual backwards-looking political position, one would expect her to be asking that the Riverfront area be clear cut, leveled for industrial development.

  10. WW&WW says:

    This is the second time Albany plans to use “urban renewal” as an excuse to demolish anything that “stands in the way of progress.” Look at the urban renewal happening in Albany during the 40s-60s, when Albany lost the majority of its history and historic architecture. Sure, there are some historic single-family homes, but almost none of the original downtown still exists.

    The Council’s nonsense is not new–it’s actually the nonsense that’s historical. Seems to me people are just starting to wake up and realize the extent to which they’ve been and are being gaslighted by their elected officials. Good for them, I say. Keep it up!

    Remember that closed meeting the Council had towards the end of the last year? That “secret” meeting about which then-member Mr. Dick Olsen had serious concern? I wonder if the contents of that meeting have something to do with What’s Going On now. Clearly the seven members of the Albany City Council know something and prefer to keep that info in their closed-society.

    Seems to me it’s time we end urban renewal. The City has used and abused it. Albany is great. The Council? They just don’t seem to get that.

  11. Rich Kellum says:

    One might remember that a big part of doing the riverfront project is to open up the views to the river, without that you may as well have a “riverfront project” east of I5

  12. thomas earl cordier says:

    Once again Albany’s Urban Renewal program is mis-used. TIF monies were supposed to be used to increase property values on taxable assets within the UR boundary. This spending will never be repaid. Lies still abound with these projects.

  13. MarK says:

    Enough with all these new projects. FIX THE STREETS!

  14. centrist says:

    Seems that a single word, “trees”, is the latest dog-whistle that provokes emotional and uninformed commentary.

  15. MU Brad says:

    a couple of things to note-
    some of the trees to be removed are invasive – not native to the area- and should be removed
    maybe a “redesign” of the improvements might accommodate the stately trees?
    when removing trees, the total caliper of ALL the trees removed should be replaced, so actually more new trees are planted than old trees removed

  16. chris j says:

    The city promotes their projects by stating they are improving the city for the future citizens or the public good. The city was built in the past to benefit past and present citizens as well. Parks such as Hazelwood that were used by the general public have been abandoned to use for future housing. Preserving those efforts such as donated parks and streets that need repair should be a priority to the city. The present citizens should not have to sacrifice their homes, streets, parks and other projects to the city’s goals that do not improve their lives and make their lives difficult. Help us keep our homes, repair the streets, have a business and keep the beautiful parks. We matter too.

  17. Charles South says:

    Sad that stately,native ,carbon storing,trees are sacrificed for developer profit. Wonder when the condos will go in ???

  18. Ray Kopczynski says:

    For some backstory for those who might care:

    “The City of Albany received confirmation this week that the Arbor Day Foundation has named Albany as a Tree City USA for 2022; the 29th year in a row. The Foundation says ‘residents of your community should be proud to live in a place that makes the planting and care of trees a priority, and you should be proud of a job well done!'”

  19. chris j says:

    What the city says and what they do is not the same.
    Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov, the Soviet physicist who helped build the USSR’s first hydrogen bomb, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his struggle against “the abuse of power and violations of human dignity in all its forms.”
    He made the bomb but said he did not want people to use it. Another example of how people reward what we say and not what we do.


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