A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Saving oaks? It’s trees versus sidewalks

Written March 12th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

A big white oak in the 200 block of Oak Street N.E. on Wednesday afternoon.

Yesterday’s story about trying to preserve Albany’s remaining Oregon white oaks prompted a reader to ask about one such specimen on Northeast Oak Street. The bike took me there to take a look.

In case you missed her comment about that tree in the 200 block near the river, Ginny Jordan asked: “What about an old oak that’s ruined the sidewalk (people have tripped and fallen) and the tree is covered in moss and loses huge limbs all year long? It looks like crap!”

Here’s a closer look. The walk doesn’t look nearly as much like a roller-coaster as some sidewalks elsewhere in town, does it?

I asked Rick  Barnett about this. He is Albany’s park and facilities maintenance manager and city forester.

“The white oak in the 200 block is a sorry problem,” he replied. “It is a really nice tree but is messing with the sidewalk etc. We are working with the property owner to see what we might be able to do.”

One option might be to reroute the sidewalk. But, Barnett says, “in the end it may have to come down.”

In the next block closer to the river, three oaks had recently been cut down:

And since Barnett and Community Development Director Jeff Blaine on Monday had talked to the council about ways to save white oaks, I asked about that too. Turns out that these three were not white oaks but pin oaks, as far as Barnett recalls.

“They weren’t of high value,” he says, and the “street department removed them to work  on (the) sidewalk.”

It may be hard for the layman to see why the sidewalk needs work on a dead-end block with only two houses. But at least the oaks were not the kind that the city is trying to save. (hh)

9 responses to “Saving oaks? It’s trees versus sidewalks”

  1. thomas cordier says:

    the whole concept of planting trees between curb and sidewalk is creating future
    costly problems. We have met to (the?) problem — planning staff that does not think beyond 10 years

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Well, those trees probably were planted 50 or more years ago. How did we “meet” the “planning staff” that did this some time before 1970 and have long since retired if not died? These days, the “planning staff” is careful to advocate and plant in the planter strip only those kinds of trees that do not cause the sidewalks to buckle or crack.

      • thomas cordier says:

        HH: because they are still doing it today—I see it many places in North Albany. We continue to pay for young tree removal from the planter strip and then pay for replanting trees in the same location

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Do you know why specific trees “in many places” were removed from the planter strips?

  2. centrist says:

    The troublesome oak in the picture really doesn’t have to go. Simply build the sidewalk equivalent of an overpass about 40ft long and centered at the tree.
    But then I don’t know about the regulations for sidewalks.

  3. Coralie Benton says:

    No doubt in my mind…To Rick Barnett, don’t be so ‘chop happy’ …Leave the white oak tree in the 200 block alone!! Reroute the sidewalk…

    • Ginny Jordan says:

      Says a person who doesn’t live there nor has to deal with the limb fall from “this sorry mess” of a tree!

    • Veronica Jordan says:

      That’s all fine and good to leave the tree alone, until one of the huge branches falls and caves in my roof from the weight of it, then what do I do considering the fact that I rent and it’s not my landlord’s tree, I’ve been told more times than I can count that the tree belongs to the city, I’m not necessarily asking them to remove the tree but it would be wonderful for them to trim it back considerably instead of just a couple of branches that aren’t going to help

  4. John Klock says:

    Oregon native white oak is Quercus garryana. I made my comments in the previous blog about saving native Oregon white oaks, so I won’t say much here. Pin oaks (Quercus palustris) are from the East and also very good for wildlife including turkeys, grouse, whitetail deer, black bears, chipmunks and squirrels.


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