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Huge tree worries resident

Sycamore has been inspected, but safety remains a concern

Nestled near the railroad which used to service Harmar Village, sits a home with generations of memories beneath the looming reach of an ancient sycamore tree.

“We moved in with my grandfather when my grandma died,” said Bill Beardmore, 67, owner of 121 Barber St.. “The tree was big then, but now it’s huge.”

The tree, though, has become problematic according to residents, who say the city hasn’t done enough to solve the safety issues. Tree commission members say the tree has been inspected and will be again soon.

Beardmore has lived in the family home for 52 years, though has had to stay in the Arbors Rehabilitation Center since he suffered a stroke this year.

“I want to go home though,” he said. “That’s my house.”

“We used to have a jukebox and a little fridge in the basement,” said Terri Beardmore, Bill’s sister. “And our granddad was a harmonica player and mom was a great singer. The house always had music in it. I remember having a birthday party outside beneath that tree when I was a kid.”

But Terri, and Bill’s friends, Russell Kidder, 61, of Parkersburg, and Ray Scarbrough, 61, of Marietta, are afraid to bring Bill home because of the reach of the sycamore tree.

“I’ve replaced the roof once for him,” said Kidder. “That was after a limb took it out, but there are more dead limbs on the tree. If he was in there and a big storm came through that would take him and the whole house out.”

Scarbrough said he is worried that signs of rot along the bark of the sycamore indicate a sickly threat to the safety of his friend.

“It’s all cracked and you can see rotted holes throughout it,” he said. “And you can see a large split up about 20 feet. It needs to at least be pruned, but maybe even taken out entirely.”

But the tree is located on Marietta City right-of-way and residents are asked not to prune trees owned by the city.

“Sycamores are a major asset to our city, but that tree is on the list of trees that we’ll ask Ann Bonner from (the Ohio Department of Natural Resources)  Division of Forestry to look at when she comes to town next,” said Rhea Bockhorst, a member of the city’s tree commission.

Bockhorst said Bonner visits Marietta at least once per month and that he inspected the tree himself Monday. He said he didn’t see any “glaring issues.”

“Of course any tree can drop limbs,” he said. “But we have to live with that liability to keep these assets. Perhaps it could be pruned but we ask citizens to not do that on their own because they often don’t know how and could get hurt or hurt someone else.”

Bockhorst said tree pruning is one of the duties completed by the city, but citizens can pay for a professional service to prune their trees if they so choose.

“It’s several hundred dollars at least though because it takes a bucket truck and several ropes to let the limbs down gently,” he said. “It’s fascinating to watch but it’s not a job for the faint of heart.”

Bockhorst said he’s not sure how the issue at of the Barber Street sycamore will progress, but that the next step is an inspection by Bonner.

At a glance

Potential Problems of an American Sycamore Tree

¯ Prone to annual infections of anthracnose, a fungus that destroys the new growth in spring.

¯ This causes die back of the emergent leaves and stem.

¯ Forms a whirled pattern of new stems, which resemble witches’ broom growth.

¯ Hollow trunks, which eventually make the tree subject to storm damage.

Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry.

Marietta City Tree Commission

¯ Website: citytreesmariettaoh.net.

¯ Meets the first Tuesday of each month at 304 Putnam St. in the third floor conference room at 4:15 p.m.

¯ Commission members: Ken Morrison, Caleb Darling, Rhea Bockhorst, Barbra Garverick, Grady Smith, Joyce Robinson and Ellie La Follette.

¯ Mayor Joe Matthews, Councilman Roger Kalter, D-1st Ward, and Cheyenne Oaks, secretary also attend commission meetings.

Source: Times research

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