Downtown tree plantings, utility work expected to wrap up soon

Gas line work on Buffalo Street is expected to wrap up soon. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Downtown Warsaw has been busy with two improvement projects in recent weeks — utility work and ongoing efforts to revamp the downtown treescape.

First, the trees

The city has been conducting a slow transition in the types of trees in the downtown that has been under way for five years.

City Plan Director Justin Taylor said it’s an effort to get away from relying on a single species of trees — a new outlook after the Emerald Ash Borer insect ruined Ash Trees throughout the region.

“It’s never a good idea to have a single species of trees throughout a whole downtown or city. We learned that with the Emerald Ash Borer when it came through. It’s a very nice urban street tree. It grows really well and looks nice, but the Emerald Ash Borer just wiped those out and decimated all the trees at once,” Taylor said.

A variety of new trees being planted include Serviceberry, Beacon Oaks, Black Gum, Pacific Brilliance Oak.

Taylor said selection of the new trees is based on shape, growth patterns and whether they drop berries.

“We’ve probably replaced about 30-40 trees in the downtown and we probably have another ten to 15, at least, to do in those planter boxes,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the removal process has been spread around on different streets intentionally to minimize the visual impact and parking inconvenience.

He said the city is adopting a long term maintenance program with the help of a certified arborist.

Gas line

Utility work is part of an effort to relocate a four-inch gas line to the west where an apartment complex is planned where the old Owen’s grocery store was located.

Part of that includes adjusting corresponding lines to make sure other customers are connected properly.

Much of the work has been on Buffalo Street near Market Street, which is about four blocks away from the future apartments.

“As part of that, they need to look at the whole system for the future development that need to be move,” Taylor said.

Taylor acknowledges that the work comes shortly after downtown streets were repaved.

“It’s really unfortunate because we did just pave those roads, so … we’re all looking out the window or walking down the street, having a little heartburn about them cutting into the new road,” Taylor said, adding that it was necessary for the future development.