LAKELAND (FOX 13) - The City of Lakeland made the difficult decision to end a long-standing Lakeland tradition by taking down the Lover’s Oak at the northeast corner of Success Avenue at Lake Morton.
The decision comes after two certified arborists and an outside consultant recommended the tree come down for public safety reasons.
The so-called Lover's Oak was formed when two trees intertwined as they grew over the years. It’s symbolic for locals as part of Lakeland’s history and a symbol of love and hope.
But in July, the tree made headlines for a less pleasant event, when a limb fell on a vehicle, causing serious damage.
This prompted an inspection, revealing the trees are no longer connected and internal decay was present.
Inspection reports say, among other things, the Lover’s Oak may have been struck by lightning at some point, furthering already-present decay. The tree has also outgrown the space between the sidewalk and the street, shortening the root system and making the tree weak.
“It was important we were thoughtful in this process. We are in the business of planting trees, saving trees, not taking them down,” Lakeland Parks and Recreation Director Bob Donahay explained. “We reached out to an outside expert to make sure that we were unbiased in our decision.”
Removal of the Lover’s Oak will begin around the second week of September and should last about a week.