Some neighbors are upset after the Fort Smith Street Department began removing a tree along North 8th Street.
Christina Old, whose house sits behind the tree, said she was upset when she heard about the city’s plans.
“I cried all day [Monday] and I couldn’t sleep [Monday] night,” Old said. “And I’m looking at it and it just kind of makes me sick. I mean, there’s just so many memories. That tree is in all of the family photos I have outside of this house from the past five years. So it’s just heartbreaking.”
Greg Riley, the director of Streets and Traffic Control for Fort Smith told 5NEWS the tree was buckling the sidewalk, making it unsafe.
“The reason the sidewalk is like that is because of the tree,” Riley explained. “The roots push the sidewalk up and if we left it, and the sidewalk around it, it would just move again.”
Riley says there are a handful of trees in that area that are being removed as part of the city’s sidewalk improvement project, aimed at making sidewalks safer and easier to navigate.
“This was one [tree] that was identified as a project this year to be replaced because of the conditions as you can see up and down here where it needs to be replaced,” Riley said.
“If we’re worried about our green canopy and you know, we’re worried about conserving that then why are we cutting down trees to save a probably 15 foot section of sidewalk?,” Old said.
Old, and her husband Colin, say they collected dozens of signatures protesting the tree removal.
The tree is located on city property. Riley added that neighbors were notified Friday the tree would be cut down to improve the condition of the sidewalk.