WWI Memorial Trees May Be Removed - WSET.com - ABC13

WWI Memorial Trees May Be Removed

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Danville, VA - A Danville World War I Memorial may soon come down because of public safety.

For more than 80 years, trees lined Mount Vernon Avenue and Virginia Avenue to honor fallen Danville soldiers on active duty.

The remaining oak trees are now up to 130 feet tall, all sitting on a confided median in a neighborhood. Under each tree is a plaque with a soldiers' name which is something very special to the city.

"When I came downstairs and turned on the porch light, all I could see was green because it was everywhere. Just tree," said Lamar Barr.

Barr not only remembers the derecho, but has proof of it. Her house and car sustained thousands of dollars in damage when a memorial tree for fallen soldiers fell.

"People's lives are in danger. And certainly their property," said Barr. 

Other storms over the years have also made their mark, dwindling down 41 memorial trees to 14.

"These trees were not meant to be planted in such a constrained location as a median," said Rick Drazenovich, director of Public Works. 

While the plaques have obviously disappeared under the roots, the tree's health seemed to have vanished as well. Drazenovich says for months they've assessed the trees.

"The recommendation was to remove them," said Drazenovich. 

While the Memorial means so much to so many, everyone feels they have no choice.

"It's a shame that they have now basically lived their full lives and now become a real danger to the people and the property along those streets," said Sarah Latham, president of Danville Historical Society. 

"I think the bravery and the heroism of those soldiers go without doubt that we need to honor those soldiers," said Drazenovich. 

Drazenovich says they hope to one day replace the trees. As for Barr, before the next storm she plans to move her car.

Public Works plans to poll neighboring residents over the next couple of weeks about if they should come down. But they say they will likely be removed sooner than later.

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