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Tree hazard diverted at Silverdale Waterfront Park

Silverdale Waterfront Park’s tallest and oldest tree didn’t quite reach its 100th birthday.

The 99-year-old Lombardy poplar tree, located near the playground, was removed yesterday after Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation officials noticed a large crack and discovered the tree was rotted out.

“I’d rather be safe than sorry when you see 50 kids under the tree,” said Bret Steck, central district supervisor for Facilities, Parks and Recreation. “You hate to see a tree this big and beautiful come down.”

A visitor to the park noticed the large crack in the tree and reported it to a park official. A hazard assessment was completed and it was discovered the tree was just about hollow.

“The tree is rotted on the interior,” Steck explained.

Crews from Darrel Emel’s Tree and Lawn Service began working on taking down the tree Thursday, limbing the side of the tree where the most damage was discovered to ensure it would be secure for the night.

“We’re going to take the weight off (one side) to make it as safe as we can tonight,” Steck said, as he gazed up at the towering tree Thursday afternoon.

A crane was brought in yesterday to complete the removal of the tree.

“We’re going to replant it with something that’s lower-growing and has stronger wood,” Steck explained.

Steck had hoped the tree could have been saved, but said leaving the tree standing wasn’t an option because of its rotted condition.

“I wouldn’t have made this call if I didn’t think this was an imminent danger; it’s a beautiful tree,” Steck said.

Community forrester Jim Trainer, owner of Treez, Inc., was planning to meet with the Port of Silverdale Thursday night to discuss the possibility of placing a plaque on the historic tree.

“It’s a shame,” he said of the tree’s removal. “I don’t think the person who made the decision was qualified to make that decision.”

C.E. Greaves planted a cutting from the now-removed tree in 1908 from an original cutting of a Lombardy Poplar which was from the Isle of St. Helena that Napoleon had planted when he was banished from France in early 1800s, according to Trainer.

Trainer was planning a centennial celebration of the tree next year. Although the tree has been removed, it can still live on, he added.

“I have 25 cuttings that I took from that tree that I put in pots,” Trainer said. “That tree will live forever.”

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