A LARGE tree adjacent to the Keith Pretty Soundshell in Drouin’s Civic Park will be removed after councillors tonight approved a motion prompted by complaints from community groups.
The Committee for Drouin, which has led calls for the tree to be cut down, made a submission to councillors in late February asking for its removal to protect the soundshell from sap and branches landing on its newly replaced canopy.
Speaking to councillors at tonight’s meeting, committee secretary Vin Bibby said the tree was of no special significance.
“Removal of this tree, in the opinion of most people, is the only avenue to stop the further deterioration of the canopy,” Mr Bibby said.
“The tree is not indigenous, it is not a memorial tree, and is also a [type of] gum which has a common problem of shedding large branches.
The soundshell was refurbished late last year at a cost to council of $50,000.
Drouin ward councillor Tricia Jones presented councillors with a motion calling for the tree’s removal, a step up from the motion originally foreshadowed which would’ve seen a notice of removal erected and opportunities for objections to be raised.
“I have for many years been spoken to by Rotary and Committee for Drouin about the need for doing something about that tree,” Cr Jones said.
“A lot of money has been spent on trying to preserve the look of that soundshell, and a lot of that damage was caused by the falling limbs of that tree, the resin (from the tree), the fact that people were able to climb up, and we are now trying to preserve what we have, which has cost the community money.”
Fellow Drouin ward councillor Terry Williamson said he supported the tree’s removal.
“With large trees, especially gum trees, it’s not a good idea to have them near housing,” Cr Williamson said.
“This is a bit similar, there could also be people using the soundshell [when a branch falls].
“There’s certainly damage from saps and moss, and you can always grow another tree.
“Trees are like grass, they just take longer to grow, and you can just plant 10 more somewhere else. You can’t afford to waste assets.”
The tree is estimated to be roughly the same age as the soundshell, being planted on an embankment made at the time of its construction in November 1993.
Warragul ward councillor Joe Gauci said cutting down trees was “not looked on lightly” by the council, but he believed this one was in the wrong place.
“I’m not green in any way shape or form, and I thought look, that tree is lovely, but when you look at the maintenance costs, [it’s not practical],” Cr Gauci said.
“The other side of the park where we could plant such a tree [as a replacement] is much more sparse, especially [appropriate] given it’s Civic Park, where a lot of families come and sit in the shade.
“We hate cutting down trees, we have growth or offset schemes because we don’t like losing vegetation.”
Mr Bibby also raised concerns spiky bushes planted at the back of the soundshell were doing nothing to prevent people from climbing on the canopy, saying “I have measured these plants today and they are 40cm high, no deterrent really at all.”
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