Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Speed versus trees. It’s surfaced as something of a monkey wrench in the upcoming Baltimore Grand Prix.
Alex DeMetrick explains why.
Before gentlemen start their engines on Pratt Street over the Labor Day weekend, chainsaws fired up and removed trees in front of the federal courthouse.
“Basically, the reason those came down was to make way for a grandstand that is being placed on Pratt Street,” said Jay Davidson, CEO of the Baltimore Grand Prix.
And that came as an unpleasent surprise to some.
“Some very attractive, perfectly healthy trees were cut without any real discussion with the public about what specific trees would be cut and why,” said David Troy, who opposes cutting down the trees.
“There were a handful of trees that were taken down this week, which is what caused the concern,” said William Cole, Baltimore city councilman. “But the number that was stated in the original report is grossly overstated. Once people hear the real number, I think it makes a bit more sense.”
That grossly overstated number was the removal of 136 trees, targeted during early planning.
But the city says 31 trees were removed, and no more will be cut on city property.
After the race, Grand Prix organizers will plant 135 new trees in Baltimore.
“The net benefit of the race will be three times the number of trees over the whole city,” Davidson said.
Before construction began, the city says it transplanted trees to other locations. Those cutdown at the federal courthouse will be replaced by trees in large planters.
But late Friday in cirucit court, an injunction was filed against the Grand Prix.
“I enquired with the Grand Prix folks,” David said. “I asked them to give me a written assertion that no more trees will be taken down. I didn’t receive that. I felt this was the only option.”
WJZ spoke with the mayor’s office about the injunction. A spokesman there said the legal action is unnecessary and moot, because tree-cutting on city property is finished.
A hearing on the request for an injunction is tentatively set for Monday, according to the man who filed it.