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Old maples will get the ax

"Ax two, trees zero.Two aging broad-leaf maple trees on Winslow Way East will likely be felled, after testing found them to be diseased, damaged and weakened by past bad pruning.It's sad for everyone, the trees included, said South Ward City Councilwoman Christine Nasser, who had lobbied for the trees' preservation. But we did our best.An initial inspection of the trees last week, by Bainbridge-based plant pathologist Olaf Ribeiro and certified arborist Darren Strenge, suggested that at least one of the trees was healthy enough to be preserved during road and sidewalk improvements that get under way this week.But using a resistograph, an instrument that measures the density tree trunk matter, they found measurable decay in one tree, and extensive decay in the trunk and main branches of the other.Roots were also found to be infected by decaying fungi, and limbs were found to be weakened to the point that cables might be necessary to keep them up in a windstorm.One tree was found to be too damaged to be preserved, while the other would be difficult to save...for a prolonged period of time, Ribeiro said.Much of the problem, he said, was that the trees had been badly topped a decade or so, compromising their strength as well as their aesthetics.Central Ward Councilman Michael Pollock, citing public outcry over the trees' imminent removal, said he would bring up the issue at this evening's council meeting. Ribeiro is expected to discuss his findings.Nasser, though, said she was confident in the inspection of the arborist and pathologist, calling them the best in the area.If they say they can't be saved, they can't be saved, she said.The trees, estimated at 140 years old, will be replaced by younger specimens as part of the $734,000 Winslow Way East reconstruction project. Last minute preparations for the roadwork were under way Monday, as work crews put up signs announcing the work.Construction is expected to be in full swing by midweek, with ongoing traffic delays of 15-20 minutes projected for those bound for the upper terminal area. Construction updates can be found on a recorded message line at 780-3702. "

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