Langley considers request to chop down tree at Boy and Dog Park

Langley Public Works Director Stan Berryman points out an old pine treee that is being considered for removal due to damaging Village Pizzeria.

The large evergreen tree at Boy and Dog Park may get the ax, a Langley official announced Monday.

During the city council’s regular meeting Monday, Public Works Director Stan Berryman said the old pine is being considered for removal largely because it’s damaging the Village Pizzeria. It’s a big tree and likely one of the most recognizable on First Street, but it may be time for it to go, he said.

Its fate, however, is not yet sealed. Located on public property and within the jurisdiction of the shoreline management program, the city must first hire an expert to evaluate the tree’s threat to the building and its general condition, such as whether or not its diseased and poses a risk to public safety.

“We’ll get the arborist’s opinion and proceed through the process,” Berryman said.

In response to the news, City Councilwoman Dominique Emerson said other cities often replace trees that are removed. That could be a solution here, she said, though this tree would be a loss if cut down.

“That’d be too bad,” she said.

Another large tree on Third Street next to St. Hubert Catholic Church is also being considered for removal. It’s a big maple and appears to be diseased. Berryman said the arborist will look at that tree as well.

The tree on First Street has been a headache for the pizzeria for nearly 10 years, said Paul Sarkis, the building’s current owner. He’s struggled with it, and before that so did Richard Francisco, the building’s former owner, but nothing’s been done.

“It’s never been dealt with,” Sarkis said.

Located in the northeast corner of the park, its roots are damaging the park’s paving stones and the building’s foundation. Its needles also constantly clog gutters and its branches damage the pizzeria’s facade, Sarkis said.

The restaurant owner added that the tree has been “mutated and damaged by improper pruning” over the years, the effects of which are visible.

“The whole thing is cattywampus,” he said.

Because the tree is on city property, Sarkis said he won’t pay for its removal but would support its replacement by a more suitable tree.

Tree removal has been a touchy subject in Langley. The loss of large trees in the past has sparked public outrage, and was a catalyst for the development of the city’s tree ordinance. The rules outline basic protections for trees of a certain diameter, but the ordinance is still a work in progress.

Berryman said he’s expecting public comment regarding the tree on First Street and that it’s welcome. In fact, when asked if it would have a difference on the outcome, he said it would.

“Yes, most definitely,” Berryman said.

There is no timeline for removing either of the trees.