Tree issue needles manager

GOING: 70-year-old trees at Maidstone Park will cut down.
GOING: 70-year-old trees at Maidstone Park will cut down.

Ten massive trees bordering the astro turfs at Maidstone Park are to be cut down.

Up to 70 years old and in good condition, the trees are now a problem because of the fine needles they drop on the football and hockey turfs.

Their removal, approved by the city council a week ago, will cost up to $30,000 and may take two years because it is being funded by an existing budget.

The mayor Wayne Guppy was a lone vote against the elongated felling schedule.

He argued the trees needed to be removed sooner to guarantee the quality of the astro turfs and to recognise the financial investment made by the city with the park's development.

Eight of the trees, a mix of cedar and lawson cyprus, are in a line from Park Rd and run between the football astro and the pavilion, which is now the home of Upper Hutt City Football.

Another two, both douglas firs, are on the park's eastern side near the far corner of the hockey playing surface.

The council's tree felling decision follows a request for the removal of three trees near the pavilion from the football club to the city's parks and reserves manager Brett Latimer.

This is "because of the damaging impact debris from the trees is having on the turf and also the effect on the guttering, cladding, roof and the general look of the pavilion", Mr Latimer said.

His report to councillors notes Maidstone Park's "combination of active open areas, bush clad hills and the mixture of exotic and native specimen trees . . . sets it aside from other parks.

"There will be some who will oppose the removal of any tree from the park for reasons other than health and safety.

"The removal of 10 trees would not adversely alter the majestic appeal of the park as [it] is well endowed with specimen trees," Mr Latimer said.

Keeping them would significantly increase maintenance costs. It could shorten the life of the turf "and be detrimental to the growing positive reputation [of the park] as a sports hub".

Peter Thomas, chairman of the Tararua Sports Club and the Maidstone Park Charitable Trust, said the council's planned replacing of the pavilion roof over summer made it the ideal time to consider the removal of the three trees.

"We understand the importance of trees to our broader eco-system, so to assist in compensation for the loss of these trees we propose to plant new trees at an agreed location," he said.

The council originally believed increased maintenance could control the leaf and needle problem.

Vegetation from the the cedar and fir trees is especially problematic with their fine needles falling back through the turf grooming machines.

Council policy allows for trees to be removed if they are inappropriately placed or causing "interference with infrastructure."

The cost of the limited maintenance and the potential impact on the life of the sports turf means "the value of the these trees has diminished and their removal can be justified", Mr Latimer said.

The tree removal will be funded from the city's existing tree maintenance budget.

Upper Hutt Leader