GUARDIANS of Stroud’s main park are taking a light touch approach to a hefty problem.
An enormous black poplar tree that has fallen over a stream in Stratford Park could be converted in to a bridge.
Most of the huge tree had been sawn up after it fell on a railway line belonging to the Stroud Society of Model Engineers.
Calls were made by member James Stone for the felled tree to be removed as it was a public safety hazard.
But Stroud District Council, which operates the park, said creating a bridge would be less complex, costly and damaging than removing the tree.
Stroud District Council staff are considering sawing up an enormous black poplar tree
When the enormous black poplar tree crashed down on Stroud Society of Model Engineers’ railway line in Stratford Park, park operator Stroud District Council sawed most of it up and society members set about repairing the damage.
However James Stone fears the tree could be a public safety hazard and wants the council to remove it.
The council said that course of action would be complex, costly, and damaging. Instead
It is considering turning it in to a bridge so park visitors can continue to admire the native, rare species tree.
For now, the council has put up signs, warning people not to climb on the trunk which bridges a stream.
“We take the safety of park users very seriously and whilst we have put up signs highlighting the risks of climbing on the fallen tree, we do not consider it to be particularly dangerous,” said Mark Graham, the council’s public spaces officer.
“This was the biggest tree in the park and we estimate that it weighs around eight tonnes, so removing will be a costly and complex job which would cause significant damage to bankside vegetation, the grounds around the model railway, and other areas which would be needed for heavy machinery access.
“However, as the tree has effectively made a bridge over the lake, this could be a great opportunity to turn it into a permanent one, with railings and steps leading up to it .
“This could make a very attractive feature for the park and is something that we’re sure that children would love.
“It would also be great to see the tree continue to provide enjoyment to future generations for many years to come, albeit in a different form.”
Mr Stones, who said he is a society member but does not speak on its behalf, said his primary concern is public safety.
“They did the minimum amount of work to clear the tree,” he said. “Now they have left it and it’s a danger to the public.
“It comes right up to the barrier of our operation and will act as a magnet to people coming across the stream straight in to where the engines steam.
“They say they have put a sign up to warn people not to walk across the tree but what if a child who cannot read climbs on it?”
Before the sign went up, some parents have been letting their children walk along the trunk, which is several feet wide and at its highest point around 8ft off the ground. No injuries have been reported.
The miniature railway circuit has been a feature of Stratford Park since the 1970s, with the society offering train rides for children through the summer.
The track is expected to be up and running for the first rides with a grand reopening scheduled for June 29.