The replacement program for the trees, which are placed on Main Street in the city's historic downtown, was discussed during a Nov. 7 City Council meeting.
“It's been almost a perfect storm for those trees, and sadly we didn't have much of a chance to buy them again,” said Shohn Rodgers, assistant director of parks and planning.
According to Richardson documents, the city planted 78 trees in December 2020, including 29 maple trees, 35 sycamores and 12 cypress trees as part of efforts to revitalize historic downtown.
Trees that need to be replaced include all 29 maple trees and 20 sycamore trees. According to arborists with the parks and recreation department, 24 of these trees are confirmed to be dead, while 25 are damaged too much to recover.
Replacing the damaged trees is not covered under warranty because the damage was caused by unforeseeable storm circumstances, according to city officials.
A February 2021 winter storm caused freeze damage on the maples and sycamores, while freezing temperatures in February this year caused further damage. Drought and high temperatures in summer 2022 also affected the trees’ ability to recover, according to officials.
Careful consideration will be given to the size of the replacement trees, with smaller trees able to establish faster and cost less, according to city officials. Trying to maintain symmetry on both sides of the street, the city is hoping to use five- to six-foot caliber trees.
Parks and recreation staff are preparing the area for new trees, including removing gravel to allow for better water percolation and renovating the irrigation system as necessary.
Dead trees were scheduled to be removed by parks and recreation staff immediately, with the planting of replacement trees expected to take place in March 2023.
Rodgers said the city’s parks and recreation staff plan to inspect trees regularly to ensure proper maintenance is done and precautions for extreme weather are taken.