Curious drivers and pedestrians in downtown St. Marys watched Monday as the removal process began for two large trees that had graced the Diamond for many years. The decision to remove the two trees, a Norway maple and Red maple, was made due to safety concerns, according to a release issued by the city's Shade Tree Commission.
The many branches that have come down due to repeated storm damage and a major split on the body of the Red maple pose a danger to people walking and relaxing on and around the Diamond, commission members said.
Bob Carnes, vice chairperson of the commission and an International Society of Agriculture arborist, said the trees have been trimmed repeatedly to remove limbs that have become precarious, but it hasn't been as effective in preventing fallen debris as the commission would like; therefore, the difficult yet necessary decision to have the trees removed was made.
"People who walk through there tell us it's a regular occurrence," Carnes said. "There's been a lot of damage to them from storms."
Clythera Hornung, secretary/treasurer of the Shade Tree Commission, said the ultimate reason to cut down the trees was the safety of the pedestrians who sit and walk near and under the shelter of the two big hardwoods.
"The trees are being removed because they pose a danger to the community," she said.
The Shade Tree Commission contracted with a local firm to remove the deciduous trees, which shed their leaves during the winter months and grow new ones each spring.
Hornung said rather than just having the stumps ground down, the tree roots will also be removed to allow for the planting of new specimens.
"Another contractor will come in and dig out the roots," Hornung said. "We can then plant very close to or in the same locations."
Following the necessary preparation, a landscape company will provide and plant new deciduous trees that will offer similar shade and beauty, but without the dangers the older, more unstable trees posed to citizens.
"We're not just going to cut down trees; we're going to replace them with some pretty good-sized trees," Hornung said. "We're trying to beautify the city and we're trying to keep it green."