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Officials differ on whether to dedicate ginkgo tree

New plant is no substitute for 89-year-old one felled in June 2001, tree commission says

ASHLAND ' A ginkgo tree planted in front of the new library addition could be dedicated as a tree of world peace and understanding, says a planning commissioner.

Colin Swales says the gesture might also bring some peace to the city. Many people objected when an 89-year-old, 55-foot-tall ginkgo was felled in June 2001 to make way for the addition.

With this tree going back in, it's almost a healing thing for the city, Swales says.

But members of the city's tree commission don't favor the idea. Swales had e-mailed his proposal to the group.

After all the blood under the bridge on this one ... is that going to give you a sense of peace when you are doing it? asks tree commissioner Brian Holley. The commission directed him to send an e-mail back to Swales explaining its position.

It never struck me as a good idea, nor will it salve the loss of the ginkgo, says Holley, who was active in the fight to preserve the tree and others.

An initiative petition to stop tree removal through a public vote never reached the ballot. Voters had approved the library addition in 1999. In November 2000, Rick Harris camped out in the branches of a cedar tree near the ginkgo for two weeks to protest the cutting.

Holley said the commission would be fine with planting a ginkgo dedicated to peace elsewhere in town.

If Colin wants to push and dedicate the tree, you won't find a mean letter from the tree commission, Holley says.

No procedure exists for dedicating trees, says City Attorney Paul Nolte. Any process probably would go through the City Council, which might want a recommendation from the tree commission.

We could do it by proclamation or resolution, Nolte says. The city has used proclamations to designate a Tree of the Year since 1989.

The Ashland library's original ginkgo survives in two ways.

Wood from the felled tree is being dried for use in the library. Some will frame a picture of the ginkgo tree, which had been named Tree of the Year in 2000. Other uses have not been determined, says librarian Amy Blossom.

Swales collected seeds from the tree during the fall before it was cut. He sprouted one at home, now 6 inches tall, and distributed seeds to others in 11 states and Canada, Holland and Scotland.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail