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Pierce County Courthouse trees taken down

Workers from Rivertown Tree Service in Hastings cutting off limbs and branches before 8 a.m., Wednesday. -- Photo by Vicky Howe7 / 8
What the Courthouse front lawn now looks like as of Wednesday afternoon.8 / 8

Two large oak trees were removed from the south Pierce County Courthouse lawn Wednesday morning.

The county put out a press release Wednesday, explaining why:

--The removal is part of a larger, comprehensive project dealing with several issues of concern to the county's Building Committee. These issues include a failing retaining wall, deteriorating sidewalks and walkways, finding a more fitting location on the Courthouse lawn for a refurbished Veterans Memorial and improving handicapped accessibility to the front of the Courthouse.

--Elements of this project have been under the committee's consideration for several years. The retaining wall was considered by the Building Committee as far back as February 2007, and the trees have been considered by the Building Committee at numerous meetings since April 2012.

--The project will improve the slope of the front lawn of the Courthouse between the building and the sidewalk, and includes an irrigation system to care for new trees to be planted.

A consulting arborist's report indicates the trees are nearing the end of their life and the Building Committee, after serious consideration and evaluation, decided to remove the trees. The Building Committee has the authority over all county buildings and grounds, including the authority to remove the trees.

--While tree removal is not desired, when considering the age and condition of the trees, the arborist's report and the potential liability associated with the trees, along with the additional facets of the comprehensive project as a whole, the Building Committee made the difficult decision that tree removal and replacement was in the best interest of the county. It is the responsibility of the committee to have the vision with respect to buildings and grounds issues for the next 50-100 years.