Arborist to determine fate of 100-year-old 'Lovers Oak Tree'

- City leaders in Lakeland may be forced to make an unpopular decision soon on the fate of the historic Lovers Oak Tree. 

The 100-year-old Lakeland landmark was deemed a hazard to public safety by two certified arborists and an outside consultant, but the city has hired Joe Samnik, a well-known Florida arborists in the state to give his opinion.

Samnik conducted tests on Monday to detect the level of decay and cracks, if any, and will advise city officials on his findings once the testing is complete. Either the tree will need to be removed, or it can stay with treatments and procedures to ensure "safety, health and welfare to the public," he said in a statement.

Public safety became a concern in the summer of 2017, when a branch fell on a vehicle and caused significant damage. 

The Lovers Oak survived Hurricane Irma, and residents in support of keeping the tree hope it can survive this latest round of testing. 

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