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Columbia tree could pose danger to pedestrians and power lines

Some central Columbia residents said people walking down their sidewalk could be in danger and the city agrees.

City reports even say about a thousand people could lose power because of the public safety concern at Garth and Stewart roads. The culprit of the concern is a giant elm tree.

The tree is putting pressure on power lines and is tilting at a dangerous level. However, whether to chop it down is a controversial decision that has been followed closely by people who live in the area with differing opinions.

“It’s had a wonderful life, the question is whether it’s time for it to come down or not,” said Frankie Minor who lives near the elm. For many people who live in the area, safety is their first priority.

“I think it’s a potential danger there, obviously that’s why the city is looking and bringing it down and they obviously think so,” said Minor.

Danna Vessel has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years and has seen the tree deteriorate. She said, “They had a person from the city come out and look at it and evaluate it and he said it’s about a seven and a half on a scale from one to 10 of decay.”

City reports said the tree could take out power for a thousand people if it fell, plus falling limbs already pose a risk to anyone walking by.

“The walking school bus for grant school comes right down here. I would hate for any little children or cars or anything to get crushed when it fell,” said Minor.

The tree is already marked with an “X” to be cut down, because the city was sure it should be removed. However, it started receiving opposition to the decision.

“My feelings are still very regretful about the possibility that the tree will come down,” said Frances Dickey. She added, “I hope that the tree doesn’t have come down right now, that we can a half way solution for the time being.”

Dickey is asking the council to instead only cut the portion of the tree near the wires. Whatever the outcome, everyone in the area agrees on one thing.

“You can definitely replant,” said Vessell.

People who live near the elm tree said mature trees like it are important for their neighborhood. Some of them hope to introduce a volunteer tree council to the Columbia City Council, so the city wouldn’t have to make these decisions.

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