Water Oak cut down at Gonzales Library

Micheal Lee Nelson, Contributing Writer
Arborists prepare to remove the Oak from Ascension Parish Library grounds.

Forty-eight years of natural shade ended in an hour Tuesday morning, as an arbor service crew cut the 50-foot tall tree from the corner of the parking lot at Ascension Parish Library in Gonzales.

It’s a typical Water Oak. They spend 20 years growing, 20 years dying,” Thomas Litton, owner of Precision Tree Services of Baton Rouge said. They were the contractor APL hired to remove the tree. Litton has 22 years in the business, now in partnership with his son Ken, with their ground crew Elvin Lea and Tyre Lamotte.

Terry Sparrow operated a crane to ensure cut sections of limbs and trunk were placed gently on the ground as the giant oak was disassembled.

A 15’ limb fell from the tree into the empty parking spaces below on Wednesday, June 26, missing the nearest car by two spaces.

"It's full of cavities," Litton said. "You start seeing leaders fall like that, it's just a matter of time."

One large dead branch reached all the way into the heights, hidden among those limbs still covered with leaves.

John Stelly, APL Assistant Director, said the tree was left in place when the library building was erected in 1980. A large square was left unpaved to provide the tree's roots plenty of water. Using Drake Elms, the library grounds landscaping features a double row of the elms in smaller open squares, down the center of the parking lot.

One large elm remains to anchor the South Irma Blvd. side of the lot while crepe myrtles highlight the building's main entrance.

Stelly said the library board would discuss all options at their next board meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m., July 31 at the Galvez branch, 40300 Highway 42 in Prairieville.

Stelly said he was open to ideas and aid from the Friends of Ascension Parish Library, too. The newly formed charitable group meets every second Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Gonzales branch.

For library information see myapl.org or contact the Ascension Public Library at 225-647-3955.