Waitara's golden trees gain reprieve

A petition to have Waitara's golden honey locust trees chopped down has itself been given the chop.

The petition, which had 179 signatures, wanted the trees gone from the town's main street because of the issues the leaves caused, blocking shop veranda gutters and blowing through shop doors.

The New Plymouth District Council parks team responded with two options for the Waitara Community Board to consider last Friday. The town could keep the trees and have them trimmed or remove the trees and replace them with Pseudopanax trees for $7532.

The honey locusts have a deputation from former Waitara councillor Clive Pryme to thank for the second option never getting a look in.

"The [shop] verandas were rotten 14 years ago before we put the trees in and they will be rotten now. Don't blame the trees," he said.

What is more, the trees were approved of by the business community when they were planted in 2003 and the main street's drains were purposely made bigger than usual to accommodate shopkeepers sweeping leaves into them, he said.

Community board chairman Joe Rauner backed Pryme's veranda claim.

"The shop next to mine has a rotting veranda and there isn't even a tree in front of it," he said.

Board member Andrew Larsen also felt the leaves weren't to blame for the state of the town's verandas. "The heart of the problem is we have so many absentee landlords and they obviously don't want to spend money on their buildings," he said.

Clifton Community Board chairman Ken Bedford couldn't resist adding to the one-sided debate, reminding the meeting the trees were chosen by the community ahead of the palm trees initially suggested by the council.

"They were rejected because there was a fear the fronds would fall off and spear people," he said.

Council parks boss Mark Bruhn said the trees were due for a trim and shape and would be pruned next month.

For those who were still worried about the trees, the council would install a basic mesh gutter guard in the guttering of their buildings.

When questioned about the appropriateness of council paying for this, Bruhn said it was better use of council resources than its officers repeatedly discussing the leaf issue with building owners.

Taranaki Daily News