Eastborough City Council approves street project

The Eastborough City Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to go forward with a proposed street improvement project that drew loud opposition from residents fearful of losing their stately trees.

Council member John Mastio cast the only dissenting vote when the council approved the plan to the rebuild streets and install curbs and gutters in west Eastborough.

More than a half-dozen residents addressed the council before the vote, and most said they strongly opposed a plan they said would ruin the ambience of their tree-lined neighborhood.

"For us, trees are a top priority," said resident John Mosley. "Roads are a second."

In most of Eastborough, curbs and gutters were installed in the 1950s, but the handful of people who live northwest of Douglas and Woodlawn opted not to participate.

Because the streets in that part of town are now in serious need of repairs, city officials said it makes sense to permanently fix the streets while interest rates are low.

The plan calls for west Eastborough residents to pay 5 percent of the estimated $880,000 cost of the project. The rest would be spread over the rest of the city.

Although the city has promised to do everything it can to protect as many trees as possible, many residents said they were leery.

Roxann Dicker said she counted 157 trees within eight feet of the street that were in danger of being lost.

Sherene Hutchinson conceded that rain often turns her yard into a moat.

"If I had to choose between the moat or the trees, I would choose the moat," she said.

Not all residents of the area were against the plan. Fred Gorges said he was a tree lover. But he said he is tired of wading through 6 inches of water to get to his garage when it rains.

"We've already spent thousands of dollars trying to fix our water problem," he said.

Although the council considered a compromise that called for building a narrower street, the majority decided public safety concerns require the street to be 24 feet wide, counting the five feet needed for the curbs and gutters.

The outcome did not sit well with Mosley, who said after the meeting that 22 of the 36 homeowners who live in west Eastborough are against the project.

"We are very, very disappointed," he said.