Disputed trees in downtown Bremerton came down on Valentine’s Day

BREMERTON — It was not a happy Valentine’s Day for some Bremerton tree lovers.

On Feb. 14, city crews took down five trees along Fourth Street on the Roxy Theater block between Pacific Street and Washington Avenue in Bremerton.

Chain-sawing the trees marked the end of several months of public debate.

The city’s Public Works Division said they were a hazard to the public and needed to be cut down. City crews on-site said an arborist had determined they were beyond their useful lifespan.

Long story short: Those five trees were a possible risk to the public.

Thelma Swem, the city’s risk manager who made the final recommendation to cut down the trees, said that in March 2016, a large branch broke loose and crashed to the street, fortunately not hitting anyone or causing any property damage (it narrowly missed hitting a parked car).

“The branch didn’t hit anything, but it could have done a lot of damage,” she said.

But the narrow miss caused Swem, in her official capacity as risk manager, to label the five trees along the block as a hazard.

At its Jan. 25 meeting, the Bremerton City council had an information briefing on the “4th Street Tree Assessment” report, prepared by Swem and Milenka Hawkins-Bates, Public Works Administration division manager.