After 30 years of complaints – Council agree to take dangerous Kurrajong tree down
Last weekend, a large branch from a massive Forest Red Gum on Kurrajong’s Old Bells Line of Road came crashing down, blocking the entire road and damaging a parked car opposite.
It wasn’t entirely surprising, according to residents who have been asking Hawkesbury Council for 30 years to have the tree removed.
The James family who have lived in the property where the tree sits by the road, have extensive documentation dating back to 1993. It includes letters to the council and more lately, emails.
The branch that fell was sizeable and covered the width of the road
When son Duane James was a youngster the family moved in and Duane told the Post he remembers his dad – an arborist, as it happens - showing him rotting bark on the tree back then.
“Dad was concerned about this tree way back in 1993,” said Duane.
“He took pictures every time another branch fell off the tree. We have documentation going back 30 years.
“Dad regularly wrote to council asking if we could take it down and they said we couldn’t, and we couldn’t even lop it. Even back then branches would fall off it.”
Damage to the car opposite
Duane said his dad had told council he was happy to lop the tree for safety or to remove it.
“But the council wouldn’t let him. It’s been a big tree since we moved in here. It had to be two feet thick even back then, it was massive.
“Far as we were concerned, if they wouldn’t allow us to cut it down they were responsible, the responsibility fell on them.”
But more recently Duane had become increasingly concerned that his mum Dixie – his father passed away some years ago – might be injured, or worse by the tree.
“I have been very worried about it. My mum mows the lawn under that tree.”
Hawkesbury Council told us they had removed several fallen branches from this tree over the last five years.
“Observations at those times indicated that the tree appeared free from major structural defects, pests and diseases and that the branch losses were consistent with general tree habit,” said Council’s Director Infrastructure Services, Jeff Organ.
Council workers made the fallen branch safe and removed the debris
“There was no evidence of heaving or movement in the ground. The tree was considered a large significant specimen in the streetscape from an environmental perspective, and staff were of the opinion the tree should be retained,” Mr Organ said.
But the large branch falling was the last straw and though it’s always sad to see such an iconic tree felled, the council has eventually relented on safety grounds and will employ a specialist company in the next few weeks to take the tree down.
“The arborist’s advice is that the tree should now be removed as it has progressed to the end of its safe useful life,” Mr Organ said.
“Staff have reassessed the tree in the light of the most recent significant branch failure noting that this branch and a previous branch loss did not occur during adverse weather conditions.”
Next door neighbour and good friend of the Jameses, Karren Hanson, who also helped raise issues with the tree through emails to council over the years, and worried every time a storm came through, said, “I'm doing a little happy dance” when she heard the news.
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