End of the line for stone pine carvings in Fremont Park

by Linda Hubbard on April 29, 2021

A reader inquired a month or so about the deteriorating condition of the carvings made from an Italian stone pine in Fremont Park. It took us awhile to get an answer, and the news is not good. Emailed City Manager Starla Jermone-Robinson:

“Assistant Public Works Director Brian Henry has completed an assessment and determined that the carvings at Fremont Park are decaying.  The damage is being helped along by kids climbing/picking/kicking at the wood.  While it’s not an immediate safety issue, it’s probably time to remove both the chair and the bench.  Public Works will be removing both in the next few weeks.”

The Stone Pine was leaning awkwardly and deemed unsafe when it was cut down in 2014. Wrote Brian Henry:

“This Italian stone pine was a favorite tree in the community due to its unique character defined by a branching architecture of large twisting lateral limbs, which swept low to the ground at several dramatic angles. This exceptional structure made the tree popular with local kids for climbing, and the tree had many natural perches that residents would use to enjoy movies in the park and other com- munity events. Families took their holiday photos with the Italian stone pine. For some people, this tree was a symbol of their com- mitment to their community and environment.”

Protestors gathered to try to save the tree before it was removed and, with some negotiation, the conversation shifted to how best to reuse the wood. Henry continued:

“With an understanding that efforts would be made to repurpose the unique wood from the tree, the removal work proceeded and a crane was used to remove large sections of wood without damaging them. These logs from the tree’s main trunk and lateral limbs were temporarily stored on site in the park until a decision was made on what the end use would be. Over the next few days, flowers and memorials to the tree began to appear on and around the stump.”

Eventually the City contacted chain-saw artist John Mahoney, and in November he carved a comfortable stump from part of the tree. From the long trunk, he cut several places to sit and climb, so the tree continued to be popular with kids.

In 2015, the chainsaw carving in Fremont Park was awarded the Astounding Urban Forestry Award by the California Urban Forests Council.

Sadly the saga is nearing the end. Jerome-Robinson notes that the three trees planted where the stone pine once stood are flourishing.

Top two photos by Linda Hubbard (c) 2021; photo of women reading by Jym Clendenin (c) 2019



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