As the construction of the new town hall building comes to an end, the Board of Commissioners and Mint Hill residents want to know what will happen to the Christmas tree at the current town hall.  The tree has been part of Mint Hill tradition for over 25 years.

Town Planners Dana Clukey and John Hoard investigated the option of transplanting the tree and hired The Maplewood Company for an expert opinion.  Paul Yandle of The Maplewood Company said the evergreen was “a transplantable candidate” and offered a variety of ways to move it.  His equipment has moved trees up to 10 inches in diameter.  The town’s tree is 14 inches in diameter.  To move a tree of that size, Yandle estimates his equipment would give a 20 percent chance of survival with no guarantees, and the work would cost about $3,000.  To excavate the tree and root system by hand would offer the best chances of survival, 70-80 percent, and would cost $10,000-12,000.

Yandle also suggested the town leave the tree and purchase a new one for the new town hall.  He offered to find a tree between six and eight inches in diameter and between 16 to 20 feet tall.  It would cost $3,000-4,000 and would be guaranteed for two years.

“My unsolicited opinion, coming from more than 30 years of transplanting experience, would be that you choose to leave the tree where it is now and to consider having our company, or some other, furnish, properly plant, and warrant a completely new tree for the new Town Hall.  That would be the safest choice on many levels, probably the most cost effective, and the one option that would include a guarantee of survival with the investment made,” said Yandle in a letter to Hoard.

“While I would love to move the tree that we have to the new site, I’m not much of a gambler, especially with taxpayer money.  If that costs around $12,000 and it gets up there and dies, I’m going to be really disappointed.  My recommendation is to leave the tree in place where it is,” said Mayor Ted Biggers.  “I would take the recommendation to get a new tree.”

The Board of Commissioners decided not to transplant the tree.

The fate of the current tree is unclear.  As it stands, the tree will be fenced in what will become the police department’s secured parking area, which will not be open to the public.  The size of the tree may be a security issue for the police department, and may be cut down.

Clukey wrote in a memo to the Board of Commissioners, “We believe that the community will feel a loss if the tree were to be completely removed.  Residents and visitors alike have commented on the beauty of our great tree.  While there is a large cost associated with transplanting the tree, there will be advantages to linking the future town hall with the past, symbolizing a commitment to saving not only a large tree, but a community icon.”