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Iconic Langley cherry tree may get chop

A few children cross the intersection of Anthes Avenue and Second Street in Langley on April 14. The cherry tree behind them is being examined for disease and could be chopped down if it presents a safety hazard.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
A few children cross the intersection of Anthes Avenue and Second Street in Langley on April 14. The cherry tree behind them is being examined for disease and could be chopped down if it presents a safety hazard.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

An old cherry tree by US Bank in Langley may need to come down.

The tall bank-owned tree along Second Street and Anthes Avenue may be diseased, said Mayor Fred McCarthy. Langley commissioned Jason Heggenes, owner of Heggenes Arboreal Services and an International Society of Arboriculture-certified arborist, to inspect the tree within the next week.

“Everyone’s aware of how popular that tree is,” McCarthy said. “But the combination of the disease and wanting to do the right thing with respect to the Second Street project is really what’s guiding things here.”

Problems with the tree’s health recently came to the city’s attention after Langley Main Street Association members looked it over and thought it appeared to be diseased. Fran Abel and Cathy Waymire-Rooks, owner of Island Gardens Design, noticed the tree was a bit sickly and mentioned it to city officials. US Bank also had its landscaping crew inspect the tree and thought it may be diseased. Jeff Arango, the city’s director of community planning, said the bank’s landscapers recommended the tree come down, but the bank agreed to have it checked by a third-party arborist paid by the city. The cost of the evaluation was not known by McCarthy at press time.

“Ultimately it’s their call as the property owner,” Arango said. “But they understand that it’s a sensitive issue and a lot of people have strong feelings about wanting to save the tree.”

Trying to diagnose the tree quickly stems from the city’s work on redesigning Second Street, making this an opportune time to dig it up if needed. The possibility of injury if the tree were to fall also spurred the city into action.

“It has nothing to do with views or right of way or anything else like utilities,” McCarthy said. “It’s whether or not it’s a safety hazard.”

“If there’s any way to save it or preserve it as a tree that’s not diseased or presents a danger, that’s great,” he added.

Jim Fox, owner-operator of Fox’s Tree Service, said that cherry trees are susceptible to several diseases. He was not familiar with the specific tree’s condition, though he remarked that the construction on Second Street was “not good for it.”

A third element to reviewing the tree is the city’s in-progress tree ordinance. It dictates what can happen to a tree on a non-single-family residence property once it grows to 12 inches in diameter at chest height. The ordinance is up for a public hearing May 12 and could be voted on by the Langley City Council in June. Arango said this tree is being treated as if the rules were in effect.

“We’re trying to follow that process, even though the ordinance isn’t in place yet,” he said.

 

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