GAITHERSBURG — Gaithersburg’s symbol is a tree inside a letter “G,” but the city may have to part with some of its oldest trees in the coming years when it reconstructs a key thoroughfare.
Due to the current state of its sidewalk and roadway, Quince Orchard Boulevard has been slated by the city for reconstruction. One-hundred-thousand dollars has been allocated for design of the reconstruction during fiscal year 2016, with $900,000 allocated for implementing the actual process in the following fiscal year. Central to the reconstruction is the matter of the 25 trees, some of them 40 to 50 years old, which grow on green spaces between the street’s curb and sidewalk. In some cases, the trees have grown to the point where they displace both curb and sidewalk.
On Monday night, Ollie Mumpower, chief of Gaithersburg’s Department of Public Works Engineering Services Division, guided Mayor Jud Ashman and the city council on a tour of the street where he reviewed options for dealing with the trees. While no formal proposals were advanced at the work session, officials expressed doubt that the trees would survive reconstruction.
“It’s going to hurt when it happens,” Ashman said. “The trees are beautiful; they provide wonderful shade and canopy, but getting rid of them may be inevitable.”
Council member Michael Sesma agreed, saying that the city would have to “bite the bullet” and remove the trees.
City staff will present specific recommendations to the mayor and council after further review of the situation. Ashman said that the reconstruction of Quince Orchard Boulevard would not commence until the construction of new schools in the city was completed and that if the trees are removed, replacements will almost certainly be planted in the new street.