SARATOGA SPRINGS - Rhianna Stallard was on her way to work Tuesday morning when she caught sight of some activity in Congress Park that prompted her to action.
“I was just driving by, when I saw them taking down this beautiful tree,” she said. “I pulled over and parked, then I ran in the park and went and jumped up, into the tree.” Two workers who were set to cut down the tree were forced to pause their actions as the woman sat high atop a limb of the tree, which is located a few yards from the Congress Park Carousel, for the better part of a half-hour.
“This tree is a staple of this park,” Stallard said. “Brides get their picture with it. Kids get their picture with it. I grew up with it.”
Prevented from cutting the tree, the workers were soon dispatched to another job, in another part of the city.
“The two workers were really nice, and we had a fine conversation,” Stallard said after the workers had gone and she descended from the tree limb. “They told me they’re going to wait, that they’re not going to cut it down today.”
The willow, which is marred by a two to three-foot wide hole in its trunk, will need to be removed for safety reasons, said DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.
“Nobody wants to see a healthy tree get cut down, but there’s nothing healthy about this tree. It’s either take it down, or it will come down by itself,” Scirocco said.
“We have talked about it for some time and we were hesitant. We asked if there was anything we could do to try and make it right, to try and save the tree - but there’s nothing,” Scirocco explained. “We talked about going in and trimming it a little bit, doing different things that might eliminate some of the issues, but in the end, it just kept getting worse and worse. I’ve got pictures from last year until now and the hole just keeps getting bigger.”
The commissioner said he has received complaints about park visitors’ safety from parents whose children play near the tree.
“Apparently some kid got inside of it,” Scirocco said. “We’re thinking: not good. The location is right by the carousel and it’s a dangerous situation. The tree is diseased and it’s in a public place where it could really create serious problems if it were to fall. And eventually it will fall, by itself.”
Scirocco said after the tree is removed, DPW workers will plant another one in its place.