Second Lumberyard Mall Tree to Fall

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Yellow ribbon will mark trees in the future intended for cutting  

With four arborists saying the tree’s roots are decayed to a dangerous point, the second towering eucalyptus tree in a downtown shopping area will be removed as early as today, Friday, April 22, the City Council decided Tuesday.

Outcry from passers-by on Friday, April 1, halted the cutting of the second fated tree at the Lumberyard Mall on Forest Avenue and forced the city to seek the opinion of a third-party arborist and re-evaluate its tree-removal policy.

Evaluations by two more arborists concluded that the tree must come down before it falls down. More than 55 percent of the tree’s roots were decayed and made the aged blue-gum eucalyptus dangerous to people and property, the report stated.

Greg Pfost, the city’s community development director, acknowledged at the council meeting that the process needs improvement.

The council approved a new interim tree removal policy that will allow the public a few days to respond to a posted tree-removal notice. Trees deemed an imminent risk would still be removed without public notice.

The interim policy may also include a requirement to replace a failed tree with a similar healthy tree, which will require further study and expected “lively” public discussion, said City Manager John Pietig.

The interim policy will be replaced with a broader tree policy at a later date, Pietig said. “The way that whole thing went down,” said council member Rob Zur Schmiede, “I’m embarrassed that it happened while I was on the council.”

Landscape architect and Indy columnist Ann Christoph suggested that the city officially notify neighbors and hire two arborists rather than three, which would be paid for by the property owner. She also recommended replacing the trees with similar healthy trees. Her suggestions were incorporated into the council’s direction for the interim policy.

To protect the city’s liability, the council agreed to place a yellow ribbon around any tree destined for removal with a notice about public input.

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