THE face of Kings Square irrevocably changed this week as chainsaws took out one of its iconic Moreton Bay figs.
The fig has succumbed to poor health and redevelopment, with the council preparing the way for the transformation of the public realm as part of its square revitalisation and citing safety concerns over its removal.
Of the 40 trees in the square, 16 will stay put, 10 will be relocated and the remainder removed. Mayor Brad Pettitt says two trees will be replanted for every one that’s removed, noting there’s not a lot of native species in the square.
Despite the tree’s obvious ill-health (it’s been slowly carking it for more than 15 years) the Herald fielded a load of telephones, texts and emails from residents angry at its removal.
“It’s disgusting what they’ve done to the square,” says 80-year-old Mary, whose daughter has bought her specifically in to Fremantle to show her what’s happening.
They blame the council’s decision in the 80s to pave and concrete the square for the tree’s ill-health, Mary showing a photo from her youth posing in front of the once-lush gardens that grew there. “It was so beautiful,” she said.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson also lamented the tree’s demise. A bit cynical, he reckoned the council buried the news of its loss in an otherwise glowing media release, and is suspicious it’s given up on the tree because it wouldn’t be a good look next to its revamped admin.