NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The process to remove multiple cherry trees from Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville to a new location began Wednesday morning.
The removal began around 6 a.m. after crews spent Tuesday watering the trees and preparing them to be transplanted from the end of Broadway to their new location along First Avenue North.
The controversy began Friday when the Nashville Tree Foundation learned that 21 cherry blossom trees would be cut down to make room for the NFL Draft stage.
The discovery sparked outrage and an online petition that gathered thousands of signatures.
On Saturday, Mayor Briley announced the NFL and Nashville Convention and Visitor’s Corp would pay to dig up the trees and replant them elsewhere.
Then on Sunday, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. apologized for the perceived lack of transparency. They also said that they had to disturb fewer trees than originally thought, bringing the total number of trees that will be moved to 10.
The city says the trees have a 60 percent chance of surviving the move, but it could take until the following spring before they know.
“We listen to the folks that live here, Nashville does care a lot about how it looks downtown. At the end of the day, we’re going to have a great event with the draft, and then the Riverfront Park is gonna be even nicer, with more trees at the end of the day,” said Nashville Mayor David Briley.
The plans were to remove the trees Monday morning from Riverfront Park. The trees would have been turned into mulch and used on trails in Metro Parks.
In a statement to News 2, Board President Noni Nielson said, “It seems incredibly short-sighted to cut down trees that took 15+ years to grow for the convenience of a one-time, 48-hour event.”
Donations from the NFL and NCVC will increase the number of cherry trees in Nashville by more than 200.