East Dallas residents concerned about tree removal at development project

Some East Dallas residents are protesting the removal of a few mature trees because of a construction project at a shopping center.

Tempers have flared. A city council member has gotten involved. But the project apparently also calls for adding a lot more trees.

Plans to pull the trees and alter the landscaping have been in the works for some time. But apparently most who live in the surrounded neighborhood only found out about it on Monday after some of the work had already begun. It set off a flurry of outrage on social media.

The brewing controversy came to a head late Monday afternoon when City Councilman Mark Clayton arrived and waded in to a sometimes testy confrontation.

So far none of the big trees have been removed, but three crepe myrtles, shrubbery, cactus and a sidewalk have been pulled. It’s all part of a larger plan by the real estate develope, Edens, which has schematics on display in a storefront. It has all gotten the necessary city approval.

Casa Linda Plaza has been a mainstay in East Dallas since 1945. At one time, it was a movie theatre. Now, it’s a food store. Still, it’s an iconic landmark for the whole area.

A spokesman for Edens, who bought the plaza in 2015, says that five of the eight elm trees that are in the promenade will be pulled. However, 34 new trees will be added. It’s all in an effort to reduce the drive aisle and add sidewalk and outdoor space to bring in more restaurants and retail and make it more pedestrian friendly.

Clayton promised the group he would attempt to get them a face-to-face meeting with Edens for a chance to air their concerns.

“I think in East Dallas… First Commandment: Don’t screw with the lakes. Second Commandment: Don’t screw with the trees,” the councilman said.

“These are 50-year-old trees,” said resident Ronda Dahlgren. “I don’t see how you can replace these types of trees because you are not going to have a canopy here.”

“It’s beloved in this community,” said resident Krista Delaharp “The theatre is a landmark. And we in East Dallas love our trees.”

An official with Edens says the councilman has reached out and that he expects there will be a meeting be with concerned citizens soon. He says Edens has bought the plaza for the long term and wants to be a partner with the neighborhood.                  

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