WESTMINSTER - Legislators' fears that a planned widening of East Main Street would destroy its small-town beauty were easily allayed when state highway officials explained that any destroyed trees will be replaced.
Although all the trees directly on the sidewalks -- some of which are more than 60 years old -- will be removed, the city has agreed to replant more than two trees for every one destroyed.
Thomas B. Beyard, the city's planning director, said Monday morning that officials expect to buy some of the 100 2- to 3-inch diameter trees with $25,000 previously budgeted for plantings on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Pennsylvania Avenue trees were paid for with a state grant.
"Leaving the trees up is an impossibility," said Beyard. "Our commitment is to replace them."
Trees on private property will be spared.
"I don't want this to be a wasteland here, with all trees taken with no probable cause," said Councilman Edward S. Calwell. "Those right behind the sidewalk should stay."
Legislators and highway officials said that many of the older trees cracking the sidewalk are diseased anyway.
"Those trees are dying from the inside out," said state Sen. Sharon W. Hornberger, R-Carroll, Baltimore.
The $3.6 million Westminster project is scheduled for completion 18 months after bids are advertised late this fall, Beyard said.
Donald Fisher, the State Highway Administration engineer managing the project, said the state expects to pay $2.9 million for construction with money from the 1986 gasoline tax increase.
The city will pick up the rest, of which about $350,000 has already been budgeted, Beyard said.
Wayne Clingan, SHA district engineer, said the project -- which will be broken into two-block segments -- should resemble Frederick's business district when completed.
"The key to (reviving Frederick's downtown) was the reconstruction of the street," he said. "All the rest of the pieces of the pie fell into place after that."
Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, said now he feels better about the project.
"I'm not usually sentimental, but I do like trees," he said. "I still have my concerns, but I am reassured."
For the project to be accepted by the community, however, Dixon said he feels the people need to learn more about it.
"I think the state needs to do the job of informing the people of the benefits of this project," Dixon said. "Lack of knowledge is the reason for concerns."
Copyright The Baltimore Sun 1990