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City mystified over trimmed cherry trees

by: KARA HANSEN MURPHEY About half of the cherry trees in the bosque at Millennium Plaza Park received unauthorized, amateur haircuts recently, considered vandalism by officials.

Call it the cherry tree mystery.

City workers are baffled over a case of 'unauthorized tree trimming' that cropped up last week at Millennium Plaza Park.

The eight or nine Mount Fuji cherry trees that suffered the unpermitted trim are part of a bosque - a neatly planted grove -overlooking Lakewood Bay. They were planted last year during the final phase of construction of Millennium Plaza Park.

Parks maintenance superintendent Jeff Munro said the illicit pruning, considered vandalism, was discovered by chance when a maintenance worker noticed tree limbs stuffed into trash receptacles at the park.

'We're trying to figure out who might be responsible for it, but it's hard because it was done after staff had left the upper part of the park for the day. … In the morning they discovered the cut branches stuffed in a couple of different garbage cans.'

Munro believes the incident occurred sometime between 7:30 or 8 a.m. Oct. 12 and 3 p.m. the day before.

As for the trees, the damage is more like a bad haircut than a fatal injury.

'They weren't scalped or anything,' Munro said. 'But whoever did it did a very poor job of pruning. It obviously was not someone trained in tree care; they left stubs where normally you would go back and do a proper cut. They removed limbs so they went out of their way, I guess you could say.'

'It isn't going to kill them or anything,' he added. 'They're not necessarily damaged to the point where it's going to hurt them. Now we'll have to go in and properly prune them.'

This isn't the first time these trees have been in the news.

Last year, developer Barry Cain approached the city council requesting that the trees be uprooted, because they obstructed the signature waterfront view from his restaurant, Five Spice, which looks over the park toward the lake from a second-level space at Lake View Village. Instead, city leaders opted to prune the trees and see if that helped the situation. They had been purchased for about $250 each.

This week, Cain said he just assumed the city did the recent pruning, as officials had agreed to keep the canopies somewhat thinned.

He said the restaurant's view hasn't been better or worse in recent days. But it still isn't quite as good as before the bosque was installed as part of Millennium Plaza Park's construction.

'It's not quite what it was, but it's not bad,' Cain said. 'It's a nonissue as long as the city keeps trimming them.'