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Two trees spared cutting after council reverses vote

 


The town council last week narrowly repealed a vote it took in December to remove two town-owned trees along the 300 block of Stevens Avenue after one council member said he felt deceived and embarrassed.

Coulee Dam Councilmember David Schmidt said a letter he had signed as a member of the Parks and Natural Resources Board had the wrong addresses on it, not the addresses where two trees they’d inspected needed to be removed.

“We didn’t look at either one of those trees,” Schmidt said. “We never would have approved their removal because they’re healthy trees.”

The addresses on the letter presented to him by another parks board member, Bruce Bartoo, had addresses of two properties that Bartoo owned, a fact he missed.

“It was a deception, and I’m real upset about it,” Schmidt said.

The sidewalks along Stevens are in upheaval in several places, with tree roots obviously pushing up the concrete.

That’s not the case with the trees listed in the measure voted on last month, Councilmember Gayle Swagerty said.

Councilmember Keith St. Jeor said the town needs to have a community meeting.

“The trees are a town asset … but the sidewalks are an asset too,” he said. He was critical of Mayor Greg Wilder, who had not acted on the council resolution after he realized the council had voted on the wrong addresses.

Councilmember Ben Alling agreed.

One of the trees, discussion revealed, has now been vandalized, and the case is before the county prosecutor.

Councilmember Duane Johnson agreed with others who said the tree committee needs to be appointed, but some issues need to be acted on more quickly. But he agreed the council had voted on inaccurate information.

The motion to rescind passed 3-2, with Alling and St. Jeor voting no.

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