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Cops’ historic tree is coming down: Six-year effort to save the live oak failed

Going, going … — This live oak in front of the DeLand Police Department, at 219 W. Howry Ave., has been marked for removal. “The date of removal has not been scheduled because we are still coordinating with Rick Werbiskis on using the stump for artwork,” Public Works Director Demetris Pressley said.

Going, going … — This live oak in front of the DeLand Police Department, at 219 W. Howry Ave., has been marked for removal. “The date of removal has not been scheduled because we are still coordinating with Rick Werbiskis on using the stump for artwork,” Public Works Director Demetris Pressley said.

BEACON PHOTO/MARSHA MCLAUGHLIN

The historic live oak in front of the DeLand Police Department will be coming down soon.

Efforts to save the 90- to 110-year-old tree at 219 W. Howry Ave. began in 2010.

After asking a team of arborists for recommendations, city workers removed vegetation around the tree and rerouted the sidewalk to accommodate the tree’s large roots.

But the oak didn’t snap back.

“The tree continues to decline, and large portions of the tree’s bark have fallen off,” said Demetris Pressley, director of DeLand Public Works.

Pieces of the tree will be saved in the hope of turning them into art.

“The date of removal has not been scheduled because we are still coordinating with [DeLand Community Development Director] Rick Werbiskis on using the stump for artwork,” Pressley said.

Part of the discussion is about whether to carve the stump in place, or move it to an alternate location. Either way, the oak will be replaced by another tree, as required by city code.

The live oak was approved for removal Feb. 20 by the DeLand City Commission, at the recommendation of the Tree Advisory Board, which had approved the removal Sept. 13.

This project is expected to cost $2,500 from removal to replacement.

Also Feb. 20, the City Commission approved the removal of another historic oak, whose demise was also approved by the Tree Advisory Board.

That tree is at the corner of North Frankfort Avenue and East Wisconsin Avenue. It will be removed sometime during the coming month.

Because there is no irrigation near the corner, the second oak will be replaced by smaller trees — the Tree Advisory Board recommended three sand live oaks. Public Works crews didn’t think they could water often enough to support a newly planted larger tree.

“The new trees will need to be hand-watered,” Pressley said. “The most that this can happen with our current staff levels is once a day.”

Removal and replacement of the second oak will cost the city approximately $1,250.

The City Commission also asked about using pieces of this oak for artwork, to preserve a small piece of history.

Pressley noted the Public Works Department has been vigilant about removing tree limbs from the earmarked oaks to reduce safety problems associated with dying trees.

- A. Janell Williams, janell@beacononlinenews.com

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