Auburn locals are showing concern with changes being made to the Magnolia Avenue streetscape, taking to social media in response to a decision to plant new trees along the busy downtown thoroughfare.
After a local community group made a post stating that the downtown planned to remove the magnolia trees that line the street, residents who responded were clearly upset.
To calm the social media storm, Auburn City Councilwoman Beth Witten, who represents Auburn's 3rd Ward, made a Facebook post Sunday morning explaining the downtown’s actual plans for the road that have been in place since 2014.
In the post, she details how the existing magnolia trees do not have proper irrigation support and how the Princeton American Elm, the trees replacing the removed Magnolias, which are also seen at Toomer’s Corner and along College Street, will use Silva Cell technology to keep them healthy and thriving for generations to come.
These elms, she said in the post, will add to downtown because of their picturesque foliage, shape and ability to cast shade.
“The misconception was that we were just going to chop down the Magnolia trees,” Witten told The Plainsman.
Another reason for the removal of some trees is due to new developments being constructed downtown.
“Sidewalk cafes and outdoor dining activate the streets of downtown,” Witten said in her Facebook post. “It strives to enhance the downtown urban experience and promote the use of public space.”
The new Skyline Café, which will be located at 145 East Magnolia Avenue, seems to be what started the community uproar.
Last week at a public meeting, Skyline was granted an outdoor café permit that requires five feet of unobstructed dining for the existing streetscape, according to a memo written by Principal Planner Tyler Caldwell in a memo to city council.
To meet the requirements, the Magnolias in front of the new restaurant will have to be removed.
“I hate having any trees cut down,” said Lynda Temaine, who represents Auburn's 5th Ward. “As long as there is a plan in place and we will have trees that will shade our downtown in a speedy manner, we will be happy.”
Tremaine will be discussing this issue as the main topic of her next ward meeting Monday.
“People just want reassurance that their city will still be the same, quaint city they always knew.” Tremaine said.
Lily Jackson, managing editor, contributed to this report.