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City Assures Trees Were Cut Down as 'Last Resort'

The city of Norcross responded to residents who were upset about an oak tree being removed Monday in Thrasher Park.

A tree that was cut down Monday in set off a comments from angry Norcross neighbors.

Nearby residents watched in concern and confusion as a tree service chopped down a decades-old oak tree on the corner of Buchanan Street and North Peachtree Street.

The residents voiced that they didn't know the tree was coming down, and they didn't understand why since it appeared to be healthy. Looking at it with a naked eye, the tree had a firm trunk and plenty of green leaves, and most of its bark had hardly any signs of damage or disease. It was also thick in girth and taller than the city alarm siren next to it.

"If we had known they were going to take the tree down, we might have kept to the roots," said Rebecca Norcross, who lives on Buchanan and whose husband is related to Jonathan Norcross, the former mayor of Atlanta.

"It was just heartbreaking," said Irene Griffin, who's also been a resident off Buchanan Street for 34 years.

The city of Norcross responded to their concerns with a press release, stating that, despite the city's preservation efforts, this particular tree and others were indeed a public safety hazard because it was dying.

"A tree company had been hired to try and save some of the larger specimens, employing the care of a licensed arborist and pruning strategies," says the release. "However, after more than a year of attention, the trees continued to die. Finally, their condition rendered them a public safety hazard."

“The city tries very hard to preserve its trees, as you can see with the American elm in front of city hall. We have invested in lightning rods, limb props and regular arborist care to keep it healthy," said Norcross City Manager Rudolph Smith. "The city’s goal is to keep our trees healthy and our citizens safe.”

Last week, another tree by the playground in the park , said the city, and many could see that it was visibly dying because of its brittle base and falling limbs.

In Monday's tree removal, the neighbors admitted that some dying branches could be seen forming at the top, but they wondered why those branches couldn't just simply be trimmed.

"A tree starts to die from the top, so it’s often hard to understand why it needed removal by just looking at the remaining stump," the release explains. "Large falling limbs are a sign a tree is in trouble, and they pose a significant safety hazard in public areas, especially in the parks and playground areas where several of these dying trees were located."

City officials said that they're cutting down the trees as a "last resort," but they're not just leaving the areas alone when the deed is done; new trees are moving in.

"As soon as a tree is tagged for removal, we start planning on planting a replacement," explained Craig Mims, Director of Norcross’ Public Works, Utilities, Parks & Recreation Dept. "Norcross’ trees are an asset that we respect and want to sustain as much as possible. ”

Because Norcross has been designated as a Tree City USA for seven years now, the city received an Arbor Day Foundation grant of $10,000, which would be used to replace the trees that have died over the years from old age, disease, drought, or construction damage.

Additionally, in September residents will have the opportunity to purchase 12-foot tall, 2-inch caliper oaks, maples and elms for $50. Locally owned ImageScapes has volunteered to deliver and plant these large trees for free.

Grassy areas of Thrasher Park will be closed through Wednesday, June 27 for further maintenance.

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Sarah Bakhtiari (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM
What do you think about the trees being cut down in historic downtown?
Susie Duke June 27, 2012 at 05:11 PM
How long does it take a tree that large/old to die? After trimming the upper dead limbs, I'm sure the tree in the park would have stood safely for many years to come. What really concerns me and what I think the city should take a greater interest in are the older trees that line North Peachtree and other streets in the Historic District. Two large old oaks sit on the edge of our front yard, which is also considered the city's right of way. Over the years limbs have fallen and one tree has basically become a 15 foot stump covered with ivy. The other tree worries me every time the wind blows. It could go one of two ways - onto North Peachtree or into our house, neither of which would be a good option. We have had an arborist exam the tree and he did not recommend taking it down but it is showing its age. Even if he had we are not in the position to spend the thousands of dollars the tree removal would require and I bet there are others in our same situation. Is the city willing in any way to help homeowners who have aging trees with removal and replanting?
Sarah Bakhtiari (Editor) June 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
That's a good question, Susie. I'd ask the city about the two aging trees and see what they say about it. It sounds like it's the city's property.

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