Tree to be or not to tree

Tree to be or not to tree
(Nugget Newspaper, 1997)

The Sisters City Council grudgingly granted a reprieve to a 50-foot aspen tree at their meeting on May 29.

The tree’s execution was imminent, as it stands in the center of a new sidewalk ready to be poured in front of Northern Lights Bakery and Habitat for Humanity. Mayor Steve Wilson said, “As much as I love trees, it is the wrong place for a tree — smack in the middle of the sidewalk.” City Administrator Barbara Warren said, “It’s a scrubby little tree.”Nonetheless, many in the community have banded together in an effort to save the aspen. Planning Director Neil Thompson relayed to the council that three “credible” people had threatened to chain themselves to the tree to prevent its removal.

“This thing has taken on a life of its own — people want to save this tree,” said Thompson.

Angeline Agre, owner of Northern Lights Bakery, acknowledged that she and other defenders of the aspen “were going to do whatever it took to buy time to come up with a solution that would work for everyone.

“I am an advocate of keeping this town’s atmosphere. Things like this tree make the town more livable for Sisters’ residents and quaint for the tourists,” Ager said.

According to planning director Thompson, the cottonwood’s defenders will arrange to extend the sidewalk out toward the street, thereby providing the requisite 36-inch clearance for wheelchair access. Ager said she and the owner of her building, Dudley Wolford, will pay for the cost of accommodating the aspen. Ager plans to donate Sunday’s proceeds from the bakery to the effort.

Mark Goddard, a local landscaper, donated a metal grate to go around the tree and has committed to helping with its maintenance. Jeff Wester of Ponderosa Forge will meld the grate to fit the tree.

Under these circumstances, Public Works Director Gary Frazee told the council that he would not oppose retaining the aspen. Council member Sheryl Whent cautioned that if the roots buckle the pavement, she expects the tree’s defenders to be responsible for repairs.