Westar may have some good reasons for removing as many as 20 trees in and near Watson Park, but many city residents could offer a number of good reasons why the trees should stay.
Preserving the trees on Seventh and Kentucky streets may not be a viable option, but city officials should actively work with Westar to make sure the utility has looked at all of its options. Is it possible, for instance, to bury those power lines? If so, how much more would it cost to do that rather than take out the trees? If the figure isn’t prohibitive, perhaps the city could even offer to use some parks and recreation funds to share the costs.
If removing the trees is part of an effort to protect lines that supply electricity to Lawrence downtown, buried lines would provide even greater reliability.
It takes a long time to grow trees as large as some of those slated for removal. City officials and Westar owe it to their constituents and customers to make sure there aren’t any reasonable alternatives before bringing in the chainsaws.