First United Methodist Church in Warren is saying goodbye to an old friend.
The Weeping European Beech tree in the corner of the church's parking lot will be removed next week, Jeff Sterling, former First UMC pastor, said on Thursday.
"Unfortunately, the tree's long life is coming to an end, partly because of the very confined space in which it resides. First UMC trustees hired an expert arborist to evaluate the tree, and it was his finding that the trunk is diseased and deteriorating at a rapid rate," Sterling said. "Many folk aren't aware of the extreme measures which have been taken over the years to preserve this beautiful and historic tree. If you look up into the tree (before the leaves return), you will see a series of large chains, which have been installed to keep the split trunk from rupturing."
Times Observer photos by Ben Klein
The Weeping European Beech tree in the corner of the First United Methodist Church in Warren will be removed next week. First UMC officials tried to save the tree, but its trunk is deteriorating and risks splitting and falling onto the church. The tree is an estimated 100 years old and nearly 90 feet high.
Tom Frair, the arborist hired to evaluate the tree, estimated the tree is "plus or minus a hundred years old."
While the tree certainly isn't the largest or oldest tree in the area, Frair said it's considered a "specimen tree" because it's not typically found at "the size and character" of the nearly 90-foot tall tree at the church.
"It's a sad thing they're going to lose it, (but) the alternatives are not practical at all," he said. "There comes a time when trees outlive their space or outlive their life in the space they've been given."
The tree splits into two main stems of equal size and height, Frair said, and over the years has been serviced by arborists who chained it together in four different places to stop it from splitting in half.
"Unfortunately what has happened with the continued growth and weight of the two dominate stems...can't stabilize it well enough to keep it from becoming weaker and weaker," he said. "It's gotten to the point now where I don't think there'd be any remedial work than can be done on it that would stabilize it anymore."
The root systems at the base of the tree have also been compromised from changes over the years limiting the root growth needed in order to sustain such a large tree, Frair said.
"Unfortunately, the tree's long life is coming to an end, partly because of the very confined space in which it resides," Sterling said. "The chains and other remedies will no longer be able to keep the tree up, and it is in danger of splitting and falling. The one side of the tree would fall directly into the Apostle's Window of the north transept (of the church), potentially destroying this beautiful and irreplaceable treasure. Hence, the trustees have made the painful decision of having the tree removed."
They plan to stabilize the ground after the removal of the Weeping European Beech on Monday and Tuesday next week with a smaller ornamental tree that will not outgrow the space, Sterling said.
A flowering pear or flowering crab apple tree would mature at a lower height and wouldn't have to be cut by a utility for clearance, Frair said.