The dugout has gone unused since April 2008, when the council voted to close it and save the tree pending a pruning and support from a metal brace. The tree's friends won the day despite negative reports from six arborists, one of whom reconsidered after the remediation.
Remediation probably won't save it this time. A recent arborist's report and the town's insurer both recommend removal. Were the tree overlooking a public pathway, it would be down already, Public Works Director Howard Young says in a staff report.
In a town that values its trees, felling a photogenic oak is not a light matter, and so the report shows due diligence:
• The report considers spending $25,000 to $30,000 to move the tree. Possible, the report says, but it might not thrive and could break apart.
• The report considers moving the ball field some 38 feet. Aside from the estimated $60,000 cost, the move would include shrinking the parking lot, diminishing the distance between the snack shack and home plate, and forcing removal of two mature redwoods. Such steps "do not meet the test of reasonableness," the report said.
The report includes considerations for a memorial.