Fairlie’s fir tree saga escalates as council claims ‘dangerous’ sabotage

0
9
Fairlie’s fir tree saga escalates as council claims ‘dangerous’ sabotage



A photograph supplied by Lane Hellmrich of nails found in douglas fir trees at McLean Park, Fairlie.

supplies

A photograph supplied by Lane Hellmrich of nails found in douglas fir trees at McLean Park, Fairlie.

The fight over Fairlie’s fir trees has heated up, with claims of sabotage to delay their felling surfacing on Thursday.

Mackenzie District Council chief executive Angela Oosthuizen said “a number” of the trees in McLean Park had been vandalised, claiming they had been shot with nails from a nail gun to prevent their removal.

Oosthuizen could not confirm how many trees have been affected, and said more work was needed “to understand the full extent of the damage”, which had been reported to the police.

She said council was notified of the nails in the afternoon of May 31, the day the planned felling of 27 douglas firs had been expected to begin.

READ MORE:
* Fairlie firs will be felled, Mackenzie District Council says
* Concern about plans to fell firs in Fairlie promptly possible protest

There has been no explanation from the council about what caused the delay.

Oosthuizen said council was “informed that the trees had been vandalized to prevent their removal”, and has since “confirmed that the information is correct”.

“Someone has shot them with nails, presumably from a nail gun. This creates a highly dangerous situation for council’s contractors and now requires an amendment to the operational plan to enable the work to be completed safely.

Fairlie resident Lain Hellmrich (left) and Anderson Arboretum's Bill Anderson (right) at McLean Park in Fairlie.  (File photo)

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER/Stuff

Fairlie resident Lain Hellmrich (left) and Anderson Arboretum’s Bill Anderson (right) at McLean Park in Fairlie. (File photo)

“This delay and the additional work required will come at an additional cost to the ratepayer.”

Oosthuizen also confirmed the decision to progress with the removal of the trees, “following the elected members’ review of the decision which determined to proceed with the removal”.

“The removal will go ahead once a satisfactory plan of operations has been created to deal with the nail issues.”.

Fairlie resident Lain Hellmrich, who has been working to preserve some trees, disputed the council’s assessment of the nails.

“It’s absolutely ludicrous what they’re claiming,” Hellmrich said.

A nail found in one of the douglas fir trees due to be felled at McLean Park, Fairlie.

supplies

A nail found in one of the douglas fir trees due to be felled at McLean Park, Fairlie.

“It’s a completely illogical argument to accuse the people trying to protect the trees from vandalizing them. The last thing anyone would do is to vandalize them.”

Hellmrich had commissioned a report by Geraldine-based arborist Li Tane that says 10 trees have defects such as “heavy phototropic leans, double leaders, spindly suppressed trees and deadwood, and should be removed”, but the other 17 are “absolutely perfect specimens and should be retained”.

Hellmrich, who was not in Fairlie on Thursday, had someone go to the park to look for evidence of nails and send him photos.

“On inspection of the trees, it is ultra clear they are old, galvanized hand driven nails. They’ve been there for years.”

A council move to remove the Douglas Firs, which run along the southern boundary of Fairlie's McLean Park, has encountered community opposition.  (File photo)

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER/Stuff

A council move to remove the Douglas Firs, which run along the southern boundary of Fairlie’s McLean Park, has encountered community opposition. (File photo)

Hellmrich said the council’s claim the nails have created “a highly dangerous situation” for contractors is difficult to understand.

“They would take about 30 seconds to remove. Anyone with any brains and a hammer could take them out.”

He said the council is “clutching at straws to make the opposition to the tree felling seem like bad people. We’re just trying to get the council to see some sense.”

The park was donated to the district in 1917. (File photo)

Lain Hellmrich/Stuff

The park was donated to the district in 1917. (File photo)

He said he is still waiting to hear back from the mayor and CEO on a suitable time for the meeting they agreed to.

He had written confirmation from Smith last week that “no tree felling will take place until after we meet.”

But Oosthuizen’s statement on Thursday, which says “the meeting between the mayor and Mr Hellmrich is not expected to have an impact on previous decisions”, appears to contradict this.

The issue of the tree removal was originally raised, considered and agreed to in less than one minute at a Fairlie Community Board meeting on February 3, following a proposal by community services manager Brian Milne.

An independent arborist report said many of the trees in the park were in need of maintenance, but only ten of the firs needed to be removed.  (File photo)

AIMAN AMERUL MUNER/Stuff

An independent arborist report said many of the trees in the park were in need of maintenance, but only ten of the firs needed to be removed. (File photo)

A request to view the arborist’s report the council’s decision was based on has received an admission from MDC records adviser Cathy Matheson that there was no report, rather a one paragraph statement from consultant arborist and local government consultant Chris Rutherford which reads:

“The Douglas Fir Trees on the southern boundary of Mclean Park are mature and approaching the end of their useful life. The trees have served their purpose (assumed to be to provide shelter for the establishment of the park’s amenity trees), and are likely to pose an ongoing risk for the future during wind storms as experienced twice in 2021. As such it is recommended that the best long term and most cost-effective option is to remove the trees now, and replace with amenity trees, in keeping with other trees in the park.”





Source link

2022-06-09 04:35:00

www.stuff.co.nz