Church Street Oak tree’s memory will live

AN old English oak tree at Church Street Mall will be felled and its seedlings saved to keep its memory alive.

The tree next to St John’s Church in Church Street Mall will get the chop as part of the mall redevelopment after Parramatta Council resolved to remove it on February 24.

An arborist’s report describes the historic tree as being in a structurally poor condition, in very poor health and entering a ‘‘spiral of decline’’.

‘‘Essentially since about 1986 it’s been dying,’’ Councillor Andrew Wilson said.

‘‘Our own arborists, every spring you see them working on it, giving it life support.’’

Cr Wilson first pushed for the seedlings to be propagated. ‘‘We really don’t know who planted it but it’s in all the old photos going back as far as you like,’’ he said.

To ensure the heritage value of the tree is preserved, seedlings grown from acorns in late January will be used at the Centenary Square and Parramatta Square redevelopments and presented to the Parramatta Park Trust, Sydney Botanical Gardens and Parramatta’s sister cities.

Wood from the tree will also be used in the design of a children’s playground and offered to local artists.

Parramatta Park Trust director Suellen Fitzgerald said the seedlings would add to the importance of the park’s role as the ‘‘historical heart of a growing urban city’’.

Parramatta & District Historical Society president Trevor Patrick said it would be sad to see it go but the tree had to be removed.

“Parramatta City Council is doing the right thing, they’ve had an arborist look at it and his machines have shown the tree is a danger to the public,” Mr Patrick said.

Mr Patrick said no one knows when the oak was planted but took an ‘‘educated guess’’ it could have been during 1888 centenary celebrations.

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