“We’re not giving into the vandals; we’re not letting them win. We’re replanting,” said Roger Stromgren, parks maintenance manager for the City of Brentwood. “It’s a shame that one warped individual could do such damage. It’s just a shame.”
The 20-year-old trees, located along Balfour Road near Claremont Drive, were found to have been poisoned in May following a routine inspection by the parks department. One-inch holes had been drilled into four trees, and subsequent lab tests revealed they had been filled with a poison similar to the chemicals found in the over-the-counter weed-killer Roundup. But because the root systems of the trees were so intertwined, Stromgren believes the two remaining healthy trees became infected with the same toxin as well.
“We began to notice the two trees on either side of the others had begun to fail and we’re guessing the Round-up went into the roots,” said Stromgren. “So when we got out there we saw that we had to take out the six trees.”
The good news, however, is that crews are preparing to replant six new sycamores in the same spot within the next week or two. Although Stromgren said he wished the new trees could be fully grown sycamores, he’s content with settling for semi-mature saplings.
“Oh, I would have loved to put in new, fully grown trees but those cost around $10,000 apiece,” said Stromgren. “So what we’re putting in instead are 24-inch box trees, around 12 to 15 feet tall, that run around $300 apiece. They’re not as big as the original ones but they are significantly bigger than your typical plantings.”
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, who has continued to be an outspoken voice against the vandalism, said he’s pleased that the trees will be replaced but remains vigilant in his desire to find the culprits.
“I’m still very interested in getting some information on this if we can,” said Taylor. “I’m glad they (the trees) are being replaced but it still just breaks my heart. If anyone has any word or knowledge about this, they are welcome to call me on my home phone or call the police. This is an ill that will bother me for a long time to come.”
Taylor can be reached at 925-634-9539. The number for the Brentwood Police Department is 925-634-6911.