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MAX plans are dooming Brooklyns flowering trees on S.E. 17th

by: Rita A. Leonard Two of the nearly fifty ornamental flowering trees along S.E. 17th Avenue which will face the axe during construction of Light Rail through Brooklyn.

This may be the last year Inner Southeast residents and visitors will be able to enjoy the row of ornamental flowering pear and cherry trees bordering S.E. 17th Avenue across from the TriMet facilities north of Holgate.

Due to the planned construction of the Portland-Milwaukie MAX light rail line in 2012, it has been determined that nearly fifty trees on the west side of the street must be removed. Since they are too large for transplanting (many have trunks one to two feet in diameter), they will be cut down to widen the PMLR corridor.

These colorful trees have brightened the commuter landscape for years, and area residents say they will be sorely missed. Every year they bloom in a magnificent array of pink and white. Later, falling petals shower a 'springtime confetti' onto parked and passing vehicles.

However, the flowering trees along the east side of the street are expected to remain in place.

TriMet hopes to replace the west-side trees, which are considered to now be near the end of their life span in any event, with hardier species that support more canopy.

Jennifer Koozer, TriMet Community Affairs Representative and a Sellwood resident, revealed that street-widening measures are planned along the entire length of the light rail corridor from S.E. Holgate north to S.E. Powell.

'There will be variable amounts of cutback along that stretch,' she explained. 'We're helping some businesses to relocate, while others will be able to reconfigure their remaining space.' Already, a number of 'for lease' signs have popped up along the avenue.

'The project design team envisions S.E. 17th as a 'green corridor', and will start to share ideas and ask for community feedback in a series of open houses on April 11 and May 9, from 6 until 7:30 pm, at Sacred Heart Villa,' revealed Koozer. TriMet has held regular community meetings to ensure that neighbors in each PMLR area are kept up-to-date with design options and funding news.

Cutbacks in Brooklyn will also truncate current TriMet employee parking lots along the western frontage, and the agency's staff is actively analyzing other options.