A tulip poplar that in its tree-like way witnessed 200 years of Lexington history was removed on Wednesday in Woodland Park, a victim of heart-rot decay. It is one of four old trees being cut down in the park because of disease.
"I don't want the public to think this decision was made lightly," said Tim Queary, the city's urban forester. "We have monitored the tree for years. And we've taken precautionary measures to preserve it, like vertical mulching, fertilizing and crown reduction."
The base of the 100-foot-tall historic tree was hollow. At one point, the poplar was targeted by vandals who tried to set it on fire.
"Neighbors have been concerned about saving the tree, but we have become more concerned about the safety of visitors in the park," Queary said.
A crew from Big Beaver Tree Service started removal work Wednesday morning. It's expected to take two days to take the tree down. Three other trees also afflicted with various kinds of heart rot will be taken out.
As one tree was coming down, Environmental Landscape Services was at the city nursery at Masterson Station Park using its huge tree spade, called Big John, to dig a black gum and a white oak. Those trees, each about 8 inches in diameter, will be planted in Woodland.
The city has planted 25 trees of various species in Woodland Park over the past three years. City arborist Cortland Secord has added name plates at the base of each tree to identify them by species.
Every year, all the trees at Woodland are evaluated and pruned as necessary.
The 26-acre park is the oldest in the city's park system and is used for passive recreation more than any other, Queary said. "Just the number of visitors and the amount of foot traffic compacts the soil, and that is bad for trees," he said.