Heights neighbors protest as county’s biggest sycamore falls to chainsaws

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by Doug Miller / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 17 at 8:45 PM

HOUSTON -- The fate of a huge sycamore tree that's towered over Oxford Street in The Heights pitted neighbors against one another in a bitter dispute.

Angry neighbors yelled profanities from the street as a tree-cutting service began to tear down history at the corner of 23rd and Oxford. A police officer was called to the scene.

"There've been a lot of tears and a lot of rage out here this morning," said Jessica Wilt, who started the petition drive. "Watching the limbs fall, watching the squirrels -- actually, we saw two or three squirrels fall -- it's very upsetting.  It's part of history, you know. You're watching history be destroyed."       

The tree is more than 100 years old and 100 feet high.

The homebuilder, Edward Goerig, said he had hoped to keep the sycamore standing and even designed around the tree when he drew up plans for the house he intends to build on the property. He said arborists told him the tree had grown so tall and unstable that leaving it standing was hazardous.

Irma Jenke has lived across the street from the historic tree with her husband for more than 60 years and is sick and tired of cleaning sycamore leaves from her garden.

“That thing's dangerous,” Jenke said.” Do not stand over there. Where they're standing, there's one dead (limb) over there. If it comes down, it's going to kill somebody."

Sarah Mason, another neighbor, disagrees.

“I cried earlier. I grieved for the tree,” Mason said. “It is a healthy, living tree.”

The sycamore is the largest of its kind in Harris County, according to the Harris County Tree Registry.

The property owner plans to give the wood from the fallen tree to a local artist.

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