Carrie West stood bewildered in front of his Ybor gift shop and wondered why one tree after the next, after the next, was cut down.
"This is a historic area. We make money because of the ambiance, the historic nature. It's the gem of the whole city. I tell you what, this is giving us a bad rap," West said.
Mario Gutierrez owns Island Flowers in Ybor and said the tree slashing was a complete surprise.
"Apparently, this has been in the works for over a year, and it's kind of sad when something is going to happen to you and you're totally unaware of it," Gutierrez said.
Greg Bayor, Tampa's parks and recreation director, says the city could have done a better job of letting the merchants and Ybor residents know what was coming. He says he's not happy with the work the tree service they hired has done so far, calling the tree stumps an eyesore, and saying the work looks sloppy.
The plan, Bayor says, was to cut down 110 oak trees that were either diseased or were getting in the way of power lines or buckling the sidewalks.
"These type of oaks that were planted in the '90s are buckling the sidewalks, creating tripping hazards. They're pushing up the tree grates, and when people aren't paying attention downtown, especially at night in Ybor, it's a tripping hazard," Bayor explained.
While we did notice some trees were right under power lines, others that were chopped down were not. Some sidewalks were uneven, but others weren't.
Ybor visitor Kathleen Cassels said it's a shame the city didn't get more feedback from residents before slashing the historic beauty of the area.
"You just don't take down old trees in a historic district. This is a very special place," Cassels said.
The city says crews will remove the stumps on October 19, and then replace them with full-grown trees.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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