Oncor’s Director of Customer Operations, Charles Elk, faced a group of neighborhood residents Monday angry about a large number of trees cut down in and around Arbor Park. The trees, at least 30 according to my count shaved flush with the ground, and many more cut close to the trunk, were removed or trimmed to ensure there’d be no disruption in service due to ice, wind or other bad weather.
“The purpose, at all costs, is to preserve these lines,” Elk told the crowd, mostly stay-at-home moms due to the mid-afternoon meeting time. “The lines cost thousands of dollars.”
The group wondered aloud whether Oncor had the right to remove trees along the park/easement boundary line, but Dallas Park Board representative Robin Norcross arrived with a map, apparently confirming that the felled trees did indeed lie within Oncor’s transmission right-of-way.
Few in the crowd were pacified.
“Did anyone from Oncor come out to see the park first before they cut down these trees?” asked Patti Bert. “Some of these trees have been here 40 years. It’s environmentally irresponsible to remove them instead of trimming them. This is sickening.”
Diane Davis agreed.
“My house on Drumcliffe was one of the first houses built in this neighborhood, and now I bring my grandchildren to this park,” she told me. “There was no reason to cut these trees down from the trunk up. I’m worried about my property values – this is hideous-looking. When I first heard what they were doing, even though I had the flu, I put on my housecoat and marched outside to stop them. I was so mad I couldn’t see straight.”
Kristen Harris is worried about erosion of the creek banks. Several trees along the edge of the creek are now gone, and “all those trees held that soil.”
Many in the group expressed irritation that removal of the trees’ visual barrier exposed the trash on the apartment side of the creek. Litter often washes over or is thrown over Skillman apartment dumpsters, parking lots or balconies into the creek below. Full trees on Arbor Park hide the unsightly mess.
“Cities all over the country have experienced widespread power outages,” explained Elk, “and the federal government has said ‘no more. You guys have got to run your business better than that.’”
Norcross offered to meet again later to discuss a plan to improve safety and aesthetics, but admitted – to a certain extent – what’s done is done.
You can see a photo slideshow by my neighbor, Elsie Soto, here.