The trees on Main Street in New Martinsville were removed because they were becoming a public safety issue, according to Mayor Keith Nelsen. However, a group of downtown business owners are researching possibilities and costs of planting trees in the existing and additional concrete planners in the business district.
While the removal of the trees has been met with some controversy, Nelsen explained that the trees' roots were raising some of the sidewalks, creating a tripping hazard.
Street Commissioner Gary Willey added to the discussion that most of the damaged sidewalk was near West Virginia Northern Community College. So the city removed those trees and replaced approximately 20 feet of sidewalk.
A photo of Main Street before the trees were removed.
The downtown business owners said they also wanted the trees removed. "We went to each business (where a tree was located) and they wanted them out," said Willey.
Nelsen added, "The trees were becoming a chore to maintain, so we decided to remove them."
"They were supposed to be changed out about 10 years ago," said Willey.
"I know this isn't a popular opinion, however, I think it looks better," said Sandy Hunt of the Wetzel County Conventions and Visitors Bureau. She said it allows people on Main Street to better see the beautiful lightposts and business names.
"It allows us to do some other things for beautification," she added.
That is exactly what some business owners are imagining. Councilman Steve Pallisco, who also co-owns The Tin Ceiling with his wife Jerry, are working with some others to research options and costs. More information on that will be forthcoming.