I'm getting a lot of questions about the Poplar Trees on lower Sims Way. There are a lot of pieces of this that haven't been well covered in the newspapers or in the swirling (and mostly wrong) rumors on social media.
This decision is likely to get made by the current council, so asking me about it probably isn't the best place to get heard. I'm still learning about this myself. But I'd encourage everyone to watch City Public Works Director Steve King's very thorough presentation about the lower Sims project at Monday 9/20 City Council Meeting. The recording of the meeting is at:
and Steve's presentation begins at 2:08 (about 8:41 pm) on the video timestamp.
If you've got more questions, Steve is probably the best place to start to get them answered with accurate information: (360) 379-5090, firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the sort of short summary: Poplars normally only live 40-50 years. These trees are about 70 years old and have been in trouble for years, and are now failing fast. Falling branches hitting power lines are starting fires; falling trees and limbs are suddenly landing in the roadway. There was a plan to replace them over time in the 80s and another in the early 90s, and a row of firs was planted behind them on the Lagoon side nearly 30 years ago; with recent drought conditions, the firs are suffering because the poplars are pulling all their water.
There's an opportunity right now to partner with the Port as part of Boatyard expansion, and get most of the replacement work paid for from grant funding, which is why the push to do this now. The alternative is having 70 separate emergencies as each tree fails one by one. The trees are going to come down due to extreme age; we can either do this in a smart, planned way with public benefit, good street tree replacement and lower costs, or we can just have them fail and not be able to afford to replace them, and end up losing the row of firs too. This is a case where planning and foresight makes more sense than doing nothing. Everyone involved understands that the poplars are beloved by many. I'd like people to have a little faith that the replacement may also become beloved too.
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Libby Wennstrom is running for Port Townsend City Council, Position 5