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Though Tuesday’s Claremont City Council meeting ended in record time, it wasn’t due to a shortage of items up for discussion. The council tackled a series of administrative matters and allocated more than a million dollars for various city projects before adjournment.
Among notable matters was the city council’s unanimous approval to remove 89 trees in the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.
The city will pay an estimated $24,000 to aid the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) in the tree removal. The MWD—the organization that owns and leases the Thompson Creek Trail to the city of Claremont—requested the removal after noticing the trees either on top of or near a vital southern California water pipeline on a recent site visit. MWD officials were concerned for potential damage to the line or, even more so, for the difficulty in conducting repairs with the trees’ growth.
“They would have to wrestle with trees as well as getting all of their equipment in. As trees grow this problem becomes larger,” noted Stacy Cuevas, community and human services manager.
The MWD said if the city decided to not remove the trees, they would not renew its lease of the Thompson Creek Trail.
“Although this is a huge sacrifice, having the [Thompson Creek] trail there to begin with continues to be a great resource for our community,” said Councilmember Sam Pedroza, while noting his appreciation of the city’s working relationship with the MWD.
“It’s the price we have to pay in order to maintain the facility for the public’s use,” added Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali.
While replanting was suggested, Ms. Cuevas said it would be difficult because of the age and size of the trees in question: “Many of them are too large,” she said. “It’s extremely costly and the success rate is only about 60 percent.”
With a suggestion from Claremont resident Michael Keenan, City Manager Tony Ramos said the city will explore offering mulch or some of the wood from those trees to interested Claremont residents.
As the city prepares for tree removal, officials also prepare to resume construction on the Wilderness area’s parking lot expansion.
Construction was paused in late September while the city obtained a permit from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District (LACFCD). The representative claimed the district was unaware of the construction of the project, which included an easement over the property owned by the LACFCD. A review was required before the LACFCD would grant the permit. After more than a month on hold, construction resumes Monday, November 26, according to a report given by the city manager. The trailheads will remain open to the public during construction.