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Kalamazoo clears a grove in the Douglas neighborhood, in part to discourage dumping

The city removed 70 black walnut trees, six black locust trees and one catalpa tree from this hillside on Prairie Ave.
Jessi Phillips
The city removed 70 black walnut trees, as well as six black locusts and one catalpa, from this hillside on Prairie Ave.

Increased visibility for camera surveillance was cited as a reason for the removal.

The City of Kalamazoo recently removed a stand of trees in the Douglas neighborhood, in part to curb illegal dumping. But it’s unclear how much the city monitors the site’s cameras.

The city removed nearly 80 trees on the corner of Prairie Avenue and Blakeslee Street. The grove was on a hill between two water utility buildings on the border of a wooded city park. The City of Kalamazoo Tree Committee signed off on the plan in December. Discussion at the meeting centered around public safety concerns at the site.

City spokesman Michael Smith said that Public Safety does not live-monitor the cameras, but can pull footage from them for investigation.

James Baker, Director of Public Services, said surveillance was not the only reason for clearing the trees.

“That was one of the one of many contributing factors to, you know, the recommendation,” he said. “The utility management and then just the attractiveness of opening the site up were probably bigger features than just the cameras alone.”

Baker said the removal also allowed the city to install an underground electric line connecting two water utilities on the site, and that there were also concerns about a water main near the trees.

“In terms of our long-term utility management plan, as well as tree management, we don't like to have that size main and trees together in the same space,” he said.

About a dozen larger trees were left standing on the site.

“I don't know if folks knew that there was a trail there,” said Baker. “But there was a trail feature there that's much more visible now.”