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Council to Decide Fate of Oak in Park

March 27, 2000|GAIL DAVIS

The fate of a lone towering oak in Libbey Park, spared earlier this month while city workers cut down two neighboring trees, will be decided Tuesday.

The City Council voted to remove all three trees because arborists determined they were dying and could fall at any time.

Because of a public outcry, council members will consider saving one tree, which arborists say could be revived with pruning.

The removal of the two trees drew fierce protests from residents who said the council should have considered alternatives.

One alternative was to leave the remaining tree, the largest of the three and probably the oldest, and move a playground from under its canopy.

City Councilman David Bury supported the plan to save the remaining oak. Moving the playground would cost the city $27,000.

Some who had protested as the trees were chopped down said saving the third tree would be a good compromise.

"I can't say how relieved I am that the city is prepared to do this," said John Christianson, who spent 15 hours harnessed 30 feet up the trunk of one of the trees. Christianson climbed the tree March 15 to protest the council's decision.

Sheriff's deputies have said the playground could only be placed deeper in the park, farther from their watchful eyes.

Other city officials said even if the playground is moved, the limbs from the tree could still fall and injure someone, posing a liability problem for the city.

Arborist Paul Rogers, who advises the city on oak trees, said the remaining tree would pose less of a safety hazard if three large limbs with hollow sections are removed.

One heavy branch has two hollow spots that almost meet.

"Sheer logic is going to tell you that if those cavities meet, that branch is going to snap," he said.

Pruning the three branches would also help the tree live longer, he said.

The council could still vote to cut down the remaining tree.

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