Subdivision lauds cherished oak


City of Gainesville tree surgeon Herb Poole installs a plaque on a 100-year live oak that was saved from being cut down by residents of Cedar Creek who raised $23,500 from various fund raisers including bake sales, garage sales and private donations.

Rob C. Witzel / The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 1:03 a.m.

Desperate times call for drastic measures.

"I literally thought that I might chain myself to the tree," said Suzanne Brown, 54, a University of Florida librarian and resident of the wooded Cedar Creek subdivision in northwest Gainesville. "I'm not normally prone to that kind of action, but my righteous indignation was aroused that something might take this tree down."

In the end, however, the saws were stowed, the chains unnecessary.

"That's why today is such an emotional experience," Brown said.

More than two years after developer Cotton Fletcher announced plans to cut down a 100-year-old live oak in the Cedar Creek subdivision, making room for another building, Brown and other residents of the northwest Gainesville community gathered Monday to celebrate the life of the tree they succeeded in saving.

"This is such a wonderful tree, and this is such a wonderful opportunity to be here today," said Meg Niederhofer, the city's arborist, surrounded by Gainesville officials, Cedar Creek residents and former state Rep. Bob Casey.

Casey, who originally offered to serve as a liaison between the homeowners and Fletcher, eventually bought the lot on which the tree stands. He is selling the lot to a group of residents for $23,500, money the group raised through donations, barbecues and neighborhood art sales.

Anita Spring, chair of the city's Beautification Board, praised the 2-year tree-saving effort, adding: "You should be very, very proud of the actions you've taken in the last few years."

In addition to welcome words, Spring and Niederhofer presented a plaque to subdivision residents and presided over the planting of five dogwood trees, additions that will encircle the venerable oak and bask in its abundant shade. For Jason Waters, 27, a tree surgeon with the city on hand for the morning dedication, the visit to Cedar Creek was a welcome change of pace.

"Usually, we're using that chipper over there," Water said, pointing to a city tree truck, wood chipper in tow. "But not today." f-z

For those on hand, Monday's ceremony marked a festive beginning to Gainesville's Arbor Day activities. On Friday, the Beautification Board plans to plant 38 trees in northeast Gainesville's Cedar Grove Park in honor of Arbor Day, a nationally celebrated occurrence that encourages tree planting and tree care.

Friday's planting, to accompany entertainment and speeches by Mayor Tom Bussing and Alachua County officials, comes as the city celebrates its 19th year as a recognized Tree City USA, Spring said.

Greg Bruno can be reached at 374-5026 or greg.bruno@gvillesun.com.

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