HELENA — Another meeting regarding the boulevard trees along Rodney Street was held at the City/County building Thursday evening.
An evaluation found some of the trees between 9th and Helena Avenue had been damaged during street work.
But when trees thought to be secure fell during the November windstorm the city decided the trees needed to come down and that leaving them up could be a liability.
The city notified residents just a few days before the removal was set to begin.
Chris Oliveira, a Rodney Street resident, says that he believes the city could have handled the situation better from the start.
“Communication. Communication on the front end, communication throughout the project, and then communication on the back end, which is being done now. But communication is key. It's buy-in for everybody. If you want people there on the landing, you got to have them there on the takeoff,” says Oliveira.
After residents expressed concerns, the city put a hold on the removal and agreed to get a second opinion.
Three other arborists evaluated the city’s findings and agreed the trees should be removed for public health and safety reasons.
Tim Burton, Interim City Manager for the City of Helena, says that he hopes the city takes the lessons from this situation into any similar construction project.
“And I think in terms of communication and coordination not only with city staff and departments but also the contractor and the neighbors, will be a large focus of ours,” says Burton.
Burton says going forward, the city may consider policies in order to try to avoid future conflict.
“But moving forward having policies and procedures that speak to practices like we can look at Missoula and other cities, like we talked about tonight, is worth consideration in terms of adopting similar policies here in Helena,” says Burton.
While no decision has been formally made, the city plans to update residents on their next move. And does plan to replant trees in place of the ones removed.