Widow fights city to save beloved tree

Posted at 5:46 PM, May 06, 2016

An Allied Gardens widow is fighting to save a tree she and her husband planted nearly 60 years ago.

Marie Ostwald said it’s all she has left of their time together.

“It draws at my heartstrings that they want to remove this,” Ostwald said.

She’s doing everything she can to keep the Brazilian Pepper Tree standing outside her home. After all, she’s one-half of the team that planted it 57 years ago. 

“All of those years, we watched it grow, kept the yard around it,” she said.

But “we” is her husband, Whitey, who passed away in 2005. 

“I know progress goes on but I’d like this to stay for a couple more years,” Ostwald said.

The tree’s roots were coming up under the sidewalk on Mission Gorge Road, making it hard for wheelchairs and strollers to get by. 

Ostwald says she called the city to get it fixed and help a neighbor. 

But once they did the work, a city arborist said it would happen again, and that the tree had to go. 

“I had a fit,” Ostwald said.

Her son, David, said that won’t happen for another 60 years. 

“I’ll chain myself around the trunk,” he said.

David already stopped the work from happening Thursday. 

Bradley Brown, an independent arborist, said the tree may not have to go.

“It looks like there may be enough roots remaining to warrant at least a higher level of risk assessment on this tree,” he said.

A spokesman for the city said the removal would likely happen next week. Ostwald said she wants the tree to stay.

“Sentimentally I want it kept the rest of my life,” she said. “And I’m 91.”