After furor over tree cutting, city plans to trim branches in Town Square

Devin Kelly

The municipality is advising the public that a handful of spruce trees are scheduled to be pruned in Town Square Park on Thursday.

Following a furor over the removal of nine spruce trees from the park a little over a month ago, city spokeswoman Lindsey Whitt emailed a statement to media Tuesday afternoon about the trimming work.

Crews will be pruning the bottom limbs of five spruce trees in the southeast corner of the park, up to the eye height of "an average person," Whitt wrote in the release.

"This work will improve visibility into, out of and within the park," Whitt wrote. "In addition, the work will make this area of the park ... less attractive to illegal overnight campers."

No trees will be removed, Whitt added.

For more than two years, city officials, law enforcement, local businesses and citizens have explored ways to curb bad behavior and illegal activity in the park. Officials have said improving visibility by thinning trees would boost public safety by offering less seclusion for illegal activities. That idea is supported by businesses near Town Square Park, the Anchorage Downtown Partnership and the adjacent Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.

On May 1, nine spruce trees were cut down in the northeast corner of the park without public notice. The removal, and the lack of advance warning from city officials, sparked an outcry among community activists and members of the gardening community, and prompted the Alaska Master Gardeners to withdraw from this year's annual Festival of Flowers.

In the statement, John Rodda, director of Parks and Recreation, pointed to the thinning of vegetation as a "simple way" to address public safety issues.

"We hope the public understands that the continued tree work is in the best interest of residents and visitors who use the park," Rodda said.

Reach Devin Kelly at or 257-4314.