OSWEGO – The recent uproar over the city’s plan to replace the old trees along West First Street with new, flowering, trees was debunked by Mayor Billy Barlow Monday night.
On the past few days, members of the community have complained that the city took down perfectly healthy trees and created an eyesore downtown. Some have gone as far as to say the project was politically motivated.
The project is to enhance the ambiance of downtown, the mayor explained.
Cones mark the spots where the trees once stood. The city hopes to start planting the new trees this week.
There is nothing political about it, Barlow said. It’s merely the city’s continuing effort to revitalize the downtown, he said.
This is the “same exact thing” as when the city took down some trees during the Bridge Street project, he pointed out. “Some people didn’t even notice,” he added.
“People just need to take a breath,” the mayor said. “Every time we touch something, there is the initial ‘what are they doing?’ I just don’t understand where the other side is coming from.”
By ‘other side,’ he doesn’t mean any political party or group – just those who seem to always find fault, he explained.
Some of the people who were most critical of the pocket park on Water Street are among those currently enjoying it, he said for example.
In his travels around the state, Barlow said that almost all desirable downtowns have flowering trees.
New Japanese white lilac trees are set to replace the old trees. The city will install them by the end of this week, according to the mayor.
“They’re consistent, they look nice and they will match,” he told Oswego County Today. “The trees that were there were probably the cheapest trees the city could get 30 years ago. They were different heights, some were half dead … they were forcing up the sidewalk is places.”
Funding for the project is available in the city’s “Tree” budget line.
“These trees will get 20, 25 feet. They’re not little scrubs,” Barlow said.