Metal rails designed to protect trees in public spaces in New York City will soon begin appearing in downtown Hannibal.
During last week's meeting of the Hannibal Tree Board approval was given to purchase and install the tree guards instead of decorative grates.
"I like them. I think they are neat. They are something different," said Hannibal's Director of Central Services Andy Dorian.
Initially, flat protection grates were considered around Hannibal's downtown trees, but as more research was done tree guards became the preferred method.
"We found out that some cities are not aligned the grates, so we stepped back and reassessed," said Hannibal Tree Board Chairwoman Kristy Trevathan. "I am glad we did so we did not waste money on something that could've been a problem."
Consideration was given to placing something around the base of downtown trees to address an ongoing problem.
"We are going to install tree rails around the street trees on Main Street to protect people from trip hazards. Sometimes that has been an issue on Main Street, when someone steps off into the tree-soil area and falls," Trevathan said. "The rails seem to have been the one everyone felt would be the most attractive and give us the most protection."
Dorian said the tree guards will provide multiple benefits.
"My concern with the grates was being able to keep them flush to the ground and just the cleanup of trash and cigarette butts that would get in the grates," he said. "With the tree guard it will be easier to get in there and clean, mulch and water."
While the tree guard specs come from NYC, they will be produced locally by Hannibal Machine.
"Probably starting off we will have about 40 tree rails built and installed," Trevathan said. "I am hoping we will have them sometime during the summer because tourist season is when we have the most issues with protecting people from tripping."
According to Trevathan, each tree guard will cost approximately $250, which is almost identical to the cost of the grates. Had there been a major difference in price Trevathan said that would have been a "significant decision factor."
Money for the purchase of the tree guards had been budgeted previously.
"It was part of the budget last year, but we didn't use it so we just carried it over to this year," Dorian said. "They were one of the things that survived (this year's budget-trimming process)."
While the initial tree rails will be used on Main Street, eventually they will appear elsewhere in the downtown area.
"As we begin to develop the Broadway tree plan we will use them in the Broadway area," Trevathan said.
Trevathan is glad Hannibal, a Tree City USA community for over two decades, continues to invest in its street trees even though it will mean more work in the future.
"I think people realize our trees are important. They add beauty to the downtown," she said. "Now as we do our Broadway tree plan we will have 66 more trees that we will have to tend to."