East Dallas Effort Pushing to Block Tree Removal

"It speaks to a much bigger conversation that's happening in our city"

In East Dallas, a movement to stop the removal of decades-old trees has stalled a developer's plans.

A petition now has more than 1,200 signatures asking EDENS, the developers of Casa Linda Plaza, not to move forward with a plan to remove five trees that have shaded the land for nearly 60 years.

According to Dallas City Councilman Mark Clayton, EDENS requested permits to do so in May in order to pave more parking. He said they told him they planned to do so in order to widen the current sidewalks to make them more pedestrian friendly. In addition, he said, EDENS already had a plan in place to more than replace what was scheduled to be removed.

"There is always the fear when a tree is removed that everything is going to be scraped and the only thing left is concrete. The city has a tree mitigation plan and they are doing more than the city even requires them to do," wrote Clayton.

But in a neighborhood where mature trees are considered as important to the community as White Rock Lake, neighbors are asking EDENS to reconsider.

"I don't think it's necessarily about these five trees. I think it speaks to a much bigger conversation that's happening in our city," Taylor Slovak said.

Slovak, who organized the petition, said while East Dallas residents understand and accept that Dallas-Fort Worth is growing at a rapid pace, they also have a responsibility to protect what makes their community unique.

"This is just a little chunk of East Dallas in a big concrete square and when you start stripping those things away, I feel like we're starting to lose our identity," Slovak said.

She's enlisted the help of others, like East Dallas native and urban designer Patrick Blayees, to meet with EDENS and find a better solution.

"When I look up at these trees, I see something that's irreplaceable. I see something that makes me want to stay… to linger here," Blayees said.

While Clayton has said EDENS has planed to plant 20 new trees in place of the five being removed, Blayees says new trees can't offer what the old ones do the same shade or relief from the Texas heat.

EDENS later told NBC 5 the number of trees being planted is 34.

Slovak said she has plans to meet with both EDENS and Clayton on July 17 to discuss the next step for both the project and the trees she's trying so desperately to save.

If they succeed, she believes her community will win a lot more than just the preservation of trees.

"We'll have brought our community together in a really great way. We'll have ignited everyone in terms of keeping what makes our history and city great," Slovak said.

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