YARRAWONGA residents are launching a last-minute bid to save 15 trees in Belmore Street, including one that cost Moira Council a major insurance payout.
More than 40 people confronted Moira mayor Brian Keenan and two other councillors yesterday about saving 14 Queensland brush box trees and a gum.
In 2009 Tungamah woman Sherrie Britnell tripped and fell on gum nuts from one of the trees earmarked for removal.
She successfully sued the council for negligence.
The matter was settled out of court in November for a figure believed to be more than $1 million.
Yesterday’s protest was held under another brush box outside the Athenaeum building.
The council has ordered the trees be cut down next month.
Meeting organiser Tom Hutchison said the council’s flawed maintenance of the trees was to blame for the problem
“Any planting requires a maintenance structure for watering, pruning and general care which includes clearing harmful obstacles from the footpath,” he said.
“Also some businesses make sure their pavements are swept regularly so we feel that the onus of maintaining a safe environment for locals and tourists lies squarely with the shire executive.
“To destroy these trees because they pose an insurance risk is totally unacceptable.”
The proposed replacement on the Athenaeum cafe corner is a semi-mature 6-metre Kurrajong, complementing more Kurrajongs on the opposite side of the road.
Cr Keenan said the council had recognised the trees’ potential liability five years ago, but had given them a stay of execution so others had time to grow.
“If they don’t go our liability cover will be at risk,” Cr Keenan said.
“How would we be if someone fell over the next lot of gum nuts from that tree?
“Where is our defence? Commonsense has to apply.”
Cr Keenan was supported by two other Yarrawonga-based councillors Peter Mansfield and Don McPhee yesterday.
“Legally, I don’t think we’ve got a leg to stand on,” Cr McPhee said.
“Unfortunately it’s the society we live in today.”
Cr Mansfield said Yarrawonga’s drainage was a bigger priority than the removal of trees.