Timaru's controversial oak trees to finally get the chop

Vetlife Timaru practice manager Fiona Morrow was sad to learn the trees on Grasmere St were being cut down. Work on ...
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/FAIRFAX NZ

Vetlife Timaru practice manager Fiona Morrow was sad to learn the trees on Grasmere St were being cut down. Work on getting rid of the trees is due to begin on June 26.

A resident on Grasmere St stands by his view the old oak trees which line the road are a "pain" - but others will be sad to see them go as the council finally prepares to chop them down. 

The Timaru District Council announced last week work to remove the first of the trees would begin on June 26, a process which could cost up to $58,000. 

The process was initiated by the residents, a majority of whom wanted the trees removed. 

Grasmere St resident Keith Pullar said he wanted to see the 70-year-old pin oaks replaced with flowering trees. 

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"My thoughts remain the same. Cut the bastards down," he said. 

Last year some residents complained about leaf fall and clean up, height issues and shading, the potential for tree limbs to fall, and hazards on root-damaged footpaths and damage to kerbing and water channels.

A council spokesman said only one resident had "recently expressed a preference for the status quo". 

The northern part of the road would be closed to pedestrians while work was underway, and vehicle access would be disrupted along Grasmere St. 

Pullar said the trees were a "pain" due to both the leaves and the root system, and he wanted them to be replaced by trees which would "give the street a bit of colour" in spring.

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Many people admired the trees on the street but "they don't have to live on it", Pullar said. 

However, Vetlife Timaru clinic practice manager Fiona Morrow said she would miss the "beautiful" oak trees, and despite filling the parking lot with leaves every winter they never caused the vets any problems. 

"The gardeners just clear it up. It will be quite sad to see them go." 

Another resident also said she would miss the trees, but since the council had made its decision there was little she and her neighbours could do. 

The council spokesman said there would be two options of replacement trees for Grasmere residents to choose from, but he could not reveal what they were. 

"We are keeping in regular contact with the residents and will continue to do so to ensure we reach a solution that works for them." 

The first stage of the work will be the removal of all of the trees between Selwyn and Evans streets. 

Not all residents backed the decision, with an initial council survey finding 21 Grasmere St residents wanted the trees removed and replaced; 12 wanted an amended tree pruning strategy, and five were happy as things were.

Removing the Grasmere St trees was last year estimated to cost between $40,000 and $58,000, while the Chaucer St trees would cost $14,500, and the new tree budget could approach $10,000.

The council said the Grasmere trees had a high risk rating and some branch, crown, or root failure could occur within three years.

 - The Timaru Herald

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