by Liana Turner
THE council's removal of an iconic tree outside Stanthorpe Civic Centre has outraged residents.
Workers cut down the liquid amber outside the centre's Lock St entrance on Wednesday morning, citing safety issues for the tree's removal.
Stanthorpe residents Mel Harris and Kylee Mochrie said the decision came as a shock to them, and they felt it was an overreaction which left the centre's entrance looking harsh and sterile.
Ms Harris said it made no sense for the Southern Downs Regional Council to invest in streetscapes for Stanthorpe, then cut down trees, leaving the town "barren”.
"They're spending so much of the ratepayers' money on streetscaping, then they do this,” she said.
The council's director of engineering services Peter See said the tree had posed a safety hazard.
"This variety of tree produces a spherical seed pod and it creates a slip hazard when the pods fall to the ground,” Mr See said.
"Over the years we have received many complaints including from a pregnant woman and more recently, from an elderly lady who suffered a severe injury after slipping.”
Mr See said the tree would be replaced with seating and replacement plants.
"The tree will be replaced with seating and pot-plants to make the area look more aesthetically pleasing,” he said.
But Ms Harris said a sign to warn people about the seed pods would be sufficient.
"If they had put a sign up... they wouldn't have been liable,” she said.
Ms Mochrie said the council's removal of the tree wasn't necessary and she wished the community been consulted.
"It was just really sad to see and I just couldn't believe it,” she said.
"They should have asked the community if they wanted the tree cut down.”
But for these residents, and others who have spoken out against the tree's removal, the decision was about more than one piece of vegetation.
Ms Harris said the incident was another blow for a community which feels its voice hasn't been heard on matters which affected the town.
"They're not consulting the community on anything like this,” Ms Harris said.