A pair of excavators and about a dozen construction workers began bulldozing across the Tri-W proposed sewer site in Los Osos at 8:30 Tuesday morning, uprooting about 20 eucalyptus trees and clearing the way for the contentious middle-of-town wastewater treatment facility.
With exactly four weeks remaining before the Sept. 27 CSD recall election, the event did not pass without a bit of protest. Opponents of the downtown sewer had been demanding "recall before treefall" for several weeks, with the expectation that the special election would ouster the three pro-sewer board members and thereby derail the entire project.
Pandora Nash-Karner, director of Move Forward - Save the Dream, a pro-sewer citizens group, expressed her delight in the fact that there's finally some sign of progress on the Tri-W site.
"Congratulations are in order to the district," she said. "I look forward to this being done."
People don't generally see the planning documents, Nash-Karner said, but they can see when a tree comes down. In fact, she explained, the project has been going on since 1999, and $20 million has already been spent to get this far.
"Psychologically, people can see progress and that this is real," the dream saver added.
On the other side of the drainage ditch, minority CSD Director Julie Tacker called Tuesday morning's tree felling a "heartbreaking sight" that she couldn't bear to watch.
"I remained home to answer my phone and comfort crying citizens who did watch the massacre," Tacker said in a press release.
While she recognizes the damage to the trees and ESHA (environmentally sensitive habitat area) as irreversible, Tacker is convinced that the visual impact of this environmental devastation will only serve to mobilize the move-the-sewer constituency. She maintains that in spite of these pre-construction efforts, the sewer can still be moved after the recall prevails.
Nash-Karner disagrees: "We have no choice. We have to do it."