Broadway supporters debate trees in streetscape
One species to be listed as ‘invasive’ in 2023
Some Broadway supporters said no trees or invasive species, please, as city officials consider the streetscape plan that would remodel the avenue from West Erie Avenue to Ninth Street.
The Lorain Design Review Board on Feb. 13 approved the plans for the Broadway streetscape project.
Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer aims to have the reconstruction done this year.
The board heard about details from City Engineer Dale Vandersommen and Jeff Knopp,
landscape architect and president of Behnke Landscape Architecture.
The plans generally received favorable reviews for adding new signage, lights, electrical outlets and wider sidewalks along the halfmile stretch of Broadway.
But the board debated the best plants to include and whether Broadway would be better off with trees in planters — or with no trees at all.
Once planted, the new trees would be columnar, having more of an up-anddown look than existing trees with leaf canopies that spread out, Knopp said.
The columnar nature of the new trees will be more upright and look more like architectural elements than people are used to, he said.
Plans included multiple varieties of trees.
With various diseases and insects that attack trees, it is becoming common practice to avoid planting just one kind of tree in a landscape, Knopp said.
But some residents were skeptical about the trees.
Design Review Board member Frank Sipkovsky suggested having trees in movable planters to avoid underground problems with roots.
Carl Nielsen, co-owner of Nielsen Jewelers, 753 Broadway, noted tree roots grew into a major problem for
sewer pipes under a building occupied by one Broadway merchant.
Nielsen also strongly recommended considering trees in planters.
At the Crocker Park shopping center, there are trees in movable planters, Sipkovsky said, but board Chairman Gary Fischer said that center also has street trees planted in the ground.
The trees will offer shade for future outdoor dining on Broadway, Fischer said.
Sipkovsky countered that merchants could save money and prevent headaches by offering large shade umbrellas over tables.
Knopp said he did not have a problem with plants in pots.
But trees in planters generally have shorter life spans because they dry out faster, get hotter in summer and colder in winter than trees planted in the ground, he said.
It is possible to bury underground barriers that confine tree roots, Knopp said.
An exact maintenance plan is unclear for the future foliage.
Lorain Safety-Service Director Dan Given suggested property owners form an association that would pay for maintenance, because it would be difficult for the city to cover costs of trimming and care.
Streetscape plans on file with the City Engineering Department show one of the varieties of trees for Broadway is Pyrus calleryana,
commonly known as the callery pear or the Cleveland select pear.
The Cleveland select pear is considered an invasive plant species, said Max Schaefer, northeast Ohio regional director for the Ohio Environmental Council.
The tree variety’s name sounds like it could be local to northern Ohio.
But it is native to Asia and can spread through natural areas due to crosspollination of pear tree flowers, according to online reports, including the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
The callery pear tree is on the new ODA list of invasive species effective Jan. 7.
It will become an invasive plant with sale prohibited in Ohio after Jan. 7, 2023, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
The department allowed a five-year grace period to allow Ohio businesses time to alter their plans for selling trees, said Dan Kenny, assistant chief of the department’s Plant Health Division.
The new rule does not mandate the removal of the trees for Ohio residents who have callery pear trees on their property, Kenny said.
Removing the trees from the Broadway streetscape plan “is obviously something to consider,” he said.
Kenny declined to comment on specific details of the plans because the Agriculture Department is not involved in the Lorain project.