Neighbors want to save trees in historic Albuquerque park

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque neighborhood is putting up a fight to save the trees in their local park. The city wants to cut them down, saying they’re old and dying but neighbors think they just need a little love.

Neighbors say the huge 70-year-old trees in Bataan Memorial Park are what makes the park so special and they want to protect them. “We’ve lost a lot of them already, I don’t want to see us lose anymore,” says Marilyn Licht.

There are about 105 trees in the park which is registered as a state historic landmark. “They’re gorgeous, huge beautiful trees,” says Rainelle Miller.

City Forester Joran Viers says they have plans to remove five Siberian Elms that are diseased and prune the rest of them. “People park under them, people walk under them, we need to remove them before there is an incident. With the trees in this corner what we want to do since we’ve got three of them kind of in an area go ahead and take out all three that also opens up planting options,” Viers says.

Neighbors worry losing the trees will diminish the character of the park. And would rather crews just remove the dead limbs instead. “If they come down, there will be no barrier between Lomas and the park, and that whole corner of the park is heavily used and it won’t be used,” Viers says.

Some neighbors say they do understand the risk. “Oftentimes after a storm, there will be limbs down and obviously there is a danger associated with that,” says Jason Moore.

Viers says they will replace the five trees they remove along with nine more that were taken out years ago with more drought-tolerant Princeton Elms. “It’s going to take forever for the trees to get this gorgeous again,” Miller says.

Viers says it will be worth it. “We have to think decades into the future. We have to think about the citizens of the city not even born who are going want shade when they go to the park,” Viers says.

The City’s landmark commission will meet on July 8 to decide the fate of the trees. The City says the cost of all the work will be about $60,000.

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