Tremendous support for dying tree

By Amanda Porterfield |

Published 01/22 2014 11:02PM

Updated 01/31 2014 10:27AM

Update: 10:07 pm, 1/30/14, Thursday
URBANA -- Tree City USA isn't losing a tree without a tribute. The hackberry tree on Coler Street is one of the biggest and oldest in the city.

Soon, it will be cut down because it's dying. Friday, a company is coming in to take a scan of the tree, creating a 3D image to save it forever.
Original: 11:02 pm, 1/22/14, Wednesday
URBANA -- People in one neighborhood are having a hard time letting go of a landmark. It's been a part of the area for, literally, centuries. A city meeting last week led to a decision to cut down a dying tree. It's limbs are hollow and rotted. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield talks to residents who are trying to find ways to remember its impact.

This hack-berry tree has given life to this neighborhood.

"It's the kind of tree that takes your breath away."

With its sheer size and beauty, it speaks clearly for itself. But recently, people like Steve Wald have given it an even bigger voice.

"We went out for a bike ride and on our way back, noticed it had been marked by the city for removal. It felt like a large blow to the gut. I was on the phone with the city arborist in about five minutes. He said, 'go ahead and write me a letter.' Over the weekend, we put the notice out and he had twenty letters by Monday morning."

For the first time, the city had a public meeting to let people know why it needed to come down. Basically, it's close to 200 years old and already has lived longer than it should have.

"It's been on the removal list once already, back in 1990. We put some hardware up there to hold it together. It's gotten to the point to where it's going to fall apart. In fact, I think if this tree had been in a field, without our assistance with the cabling, it would be down on the ground by now. If it fails here, we're over streets, we're over houses, we're over people. So, it's important for us to find these things and abate the problem before they become a danger."

But, as those hollow branches sprawl onto Coler Street, a whole community is reaching back, full of hope that life goes on.

"We're hoping that a new tree will sprout form her roots. So, essentially, a daughter of this tree will grow in its place."

Some of the other ways they hope to honor this tree is replicating the trunk, having an artist do a drawing or create a 3D scan of it to keep. They hope to raise between $2,500 - $5,000 for the memorial with the community's help.

If you have suggestions for what to do with the tree, or money to donate to the cause, contact Mike Brunk with the City of Urbana.

Mike Brunk
Urbana City Arborist
(217) 384 - 2393

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