As the Hiawatha Playfield renovation work intensifies, with dirt-moving having begun late last week, Dave e-mailed this morning to say the century-old elm tree by the field has just been cut down (same tree shown in the city photo at left). This has been in the plans for a long time, according to the story we published after a public meeting in December 2007, at which time the Parks Department said 14 trees in all – including that elm – would be coming down. Some things have since changed, though – like the timetable for the project, which was then expected to be built last year, but is just getting started now, and the price tag for the project, with bids that came in so low, Parks was able to move half a million dollars out of the budget to cover about 2/3 of the Delridge Skatepark project. There’s also a new project manager, and we’re working to get an official update from him on the timetable and what’ll be happening over the summer, as well as the latest on the tree-cutting that will be involved. (Parks had said at that 2007 meeting that the elm tree had suffered serious damage in an ice storm several years ago – note the uneven sides in the photo.) When the project’s done late this year, Hiawatha will have new lighting and new turf for full-size baseball, soccer and football fields (details here). 1:17 PM UPDATE: Stopped by Hiawatha for photos of what’s happening, including what’s left of the elm tree:
We also got a quick status report from project manager Garrett Farrell:
The contractor has removed the existing batting cages, backstop, bleachers and field lighting. Stripping of the old field surface is underway. The new underground irrigation and electrical work will follow.
Farrell notes the tree removal is also explained on the Hiawatha project’s webpage – it’s still expected to total 14 trees including this one; the other 13 are smaller/younger. ADDED 5:10 PM: Thanks to Forest for pointing out that the city’s been vigilant about elm-tree disease for months now — here’s info about the Elm Protection Program.