Just before the pecan tree’s limbs were cut, a driver shouted from her passing car, “Don’t do it.”
But there was no stopping the chain saw on this chilly Monday morning, as John Waldrop and Son Tree Service of Commerce prepared for the task of bringing down the beloved tree in a roundabout off Grand Hickory Drive in Braselton.
The tree, believed to be 300 years old, had died. Its insides were hollowed out from years of tree rot, with empty places now the home to rodents.
“It’s been in decline for years,” said John Waldrop of the tree service. “We did everything we could do to make sure the tree was taken care of, until there was nothing else we could do.”
“It’s sad,” said Braselton resident Kathy Bremus, watching from a nearby store. “It’s such a statement when you come through, and there’s no way to replace that.”
The tree sits inside the roundabout, an area that serves as a park with benches, walkways and shrubs.
Standing long before Braselton was incorporated in 1916, the tree was protected in 2003 during the construction of the Mulberry Park neighborhood and Mulberry Walk shopping center off Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211 just south of the Hall County line.
Its health had declined over the past decade and was deemed a safety hazard, the town said in a press release Jan. 31.
“It has become a beloved landmark for Braselton residents,” Town Manager Jennifer Scott said.
Scott said the Braselton Visitors Bureau Authority plans to plant a new pecan tree in its place. A ceremony is set for Arbor Day, April 29. Waldrop said he plans to donate the tree.
The tree cutting should take place at least Feb. 14 and Tuesday, Feb. 15, Waldrop said.
Removal is costing the city $7,500, Scott said.
The good news for the community is that the tree isn’t completely going away. Pieces in good shape will be saved.
“We’re going to give some to local artists,” said Amy Pinnell, Braselton’s community development director.
Also, the wood could be used to build a table that may be placed in downtown’s The 1904, a multi-tenant building that once served as the old Braselton Brothers store.
“You can’t just cut it and start making stuff with it. There’s a process,” Pinnell said. “It’s going to take some time before we get that back, but it will be worth it, I think.”