FREMANTLE resident Gillian Eckersley says she’s willing to pay extra rates to save two Moreton Bay figs in Kings Square from the axe.
The two 130-year-old trees are in poor health and the council is asking residents whether they’d support replacing the ‘Christmas’ fig with another mature fig and the other with a London Plane tree, or put up with some pretty harsh pruning and unsightly fencing.
“They’re iconic to Fremantle – I can’t believe it will actually happen,” Ms Eckersley told the Chook as she was walking through the square last week.
But not everyone’s so sentimental about them, with a few people saying their time was up and the council should move on.
Council infrastructure director Graham Tattersall estimated it could cost up to $200,000 to replace both fig trees, or up to $12,000 per year to maintain the existing trees.
“Given the poor health and the rate of decline of the trees, it is difficult to forecast how long a management regime may be effective or how long the trees would last,” he says.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt has said the heavy pruning and fencing will adversely impact the trees’ appearance and the amount of shade they provide, so the council wants to make sure locals are on-side before sending in crews with chainsaws.
For decades the Christmas fig has been festooned with decorative lights over Christmas.
Local Grant Straiton, who regularly passes through the square, says the planned redevelopment doesn’t reflect the history of the city.
“Fremantle needs a facelift, but I would be sad to see the trees go.”
The large number of residents concerned about the future of the trees has prompted the city to hold a public information session on Thursday night (June 21), as the Herald was going to print.
To have your say on the future of the trees go to mysay.fremantle.wa.gov.au/figtrees
It is expected that council will make a decision on their future next month.
by HARRIET BURROWS
and ANTON LA MACCHIA