By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
For an unknown number of decades, the towering elm tree on Conneaut hill provided shade in the summer and something for sledders to swerve around in the winter.
But on Monday, yellow “caution” tape was stretched around the hill, warning sledders to stay away. It’s not like Bowling Green has many sledding options for kids on snowy days. But on this rare occasion, the snow on the hill was not lined with new ruts from sleds going down and little feet climbing up.
The stately elm, it appears, will have to go. And since sledding will not be allowed while the tree stands, the elm will have to go soon.
“A very large crack has developed in the tree,” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter told City Council on Monday. “This large part of the tree is separating from the rest of the tree.”
The giant tree was examined by Bowling Green’s city arborist and by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources arborist. The two came to the same conclusion.
“We couldn’t have children on that hill with that tree there,” Tretter said.
So the tree will come down this week, she said. Not only will that allow children to keep sledding this winter, but the best time to take down a tree of this size is when the ground is still frozen, Tretter added.
The city has tried for years to stretch out the life of the shapely elm tree. Years ago, some limbs were braced together in order to shore up the aging tree, according to Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett. But that was only a short-term fix.
No one has been injured by falling branches from the tree, Fawcett said.
The city faced some options – with none of them being pretty. First, cut down the elm. Second, close the park. Third, aggressively prune the tree, removing about two-thirds of the tree and making survival very difficult.
To make the loss of the tree a little more palatable, Tretter said the lumber from the elm will be used to make some benches near the sledding hill at Conneaut and Haskins roads. Also, more trees will be planted in the park to offer shade in the future.