Neighbors unhappy as city removes 300+ trees along Monon Rail Trail

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — People who use the Monon Rail Trail or live near it were not happy Friday, after the city began cutting down trees.

They’re trees that Darrell Hensley is accustomed to enjoying on his regular trail runs.

“You got the trees coming over the Monon, it’s beautiful over the bridge,” Hensley said.

But those trees are no longer around between 19th and 21st streets.

“When you’re out here running, to me, it’s like you go to a different place in your head. You’re looking at the scenery and you see the animals or whatever, you know? You don’t have that right here. It’s just bare,” Hensley said.

Jenelle Bunton with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works told News 8 that 21 trees were recently cut down in the area between 19th and 21st streets. One tree posed a safety hazard between 19th and 20th streets. The others were cut down as part of a Monon widening project.

“There were some really big, old trees there. It was a little bit devastating,” Tracy Fishburn said.

The city is completing forestry work ahead of a plan to widen the Monon by 4 feet all the way from 10th Street north to 96th Street.

To do that, the DPW said 62 trees need to come down along a 10-mile length of the trail.

“Sometimes, there’s not a whole lot of courtesy. People zoom by you, you don’t really hear them coming,” said David Webb, of Indianapolis. “If it’s for a good cause to make the trail more suitable for myself and other residents of the city when we’re going on walks, jogs and bike rides, I think it’s a good thing.”

The city is removing 328 trees determined by certified arborists to be dead or in poor condition. That’s to make sure the trail is safe once the widening is done.

“That makes sense, I guess. Safety.” Fishburn said.

The emerald ash borer beetle killed many of the trees, according to DPW.

“(Removing the trees) really doesn’t bother me,” said David Hudson. “They’re trees.”

“I feel sad that the animals, the birds don’t have a place to go now,” Fishburn said.

So, Hensley will keep running and enjoying the trees he can see while the trail expands: “Maybe put something to look at down here, you know, instead of it just being bare.”

The city says trees will be replaced, although locations will be decided once the widening project is finished.