City Forester Outlines Challenges To Downtown Tree Planting

(Beaver Dam) One component of Beaver Dam’s downtown revitalization plan is to have trees installed along Front Street for the very first time. In March, the Beaver Dam Common Council approved partial phase one borrowing of $580-thousand dollars to address four primary elements of the plan: a façade grant program, the acquisition and demolition of a Front Street building, landscaping and trees.

City Forester John Neumann says the process may be more easily said than done. Neumann told the city’s Community Development Committee this month that the concrete sidewalks pose a challenge especially since there was no plans for trees to be planted when Front Street was reconstructed three years ago.

Beaver Dam is someone unique among communities in that its downtown had century-old coal shoots underground serving each building that had to be removed and filled. Neumann says if there had been the foresight of using top soil to fill instead of gravel, trees would have been able to take root more easily. His plan has always been to plant trees with a 100-year-life span not a ten-year-span. If the trees are planted through concrete, the lifespan may be slightly longer but Neumann says the sidewalk could cave-in because there is no way to ensure that fill would be properly compacted once topsoil is inserted underground.

Even if trees are planted with a short lifespan in mind, there is also the cost of removal of the trees. Neumann says planting trees in the concrete may last longer but will cost more to remove. Potted trees would cost less to dispose of but would likely not last as long. Neumann says potted tree’s might be the most cost-effective route.