Old Tree Planted by Redlands' Founders Mistakenly Cut by Landscapers

People who have lived in Redlands long enough know something huge is missing from the intersection of Orange Street and Citrus Avenue.

"This is the first that I've seen that it's gone," Sharon Cole said. "It's been lovely shade for people to sit on the corner."

Cole is talking about the Triangle Park oak tree, which has been here for at least 100 years. Last week, workers hired by Frontier Communications mistakenly destroyed it.

"It was extremely irresponsible for frontier to do something like (that)," Jane Myers said. "I am upset about it."

City leaders are also upset. The tree is right across the street from City Hall. It was planted in the 1910s by the founders of Redlands.

"A lot of the city fathers were there," said Carl Baker, a city spokesman. "Daniel Smiley, whose family built the Smiley Library."

Frontier communications has a building at that corner and the company hired landscapers to take care of the overgrowth on its property, Baker said.

"The crew mistakenly cut down or started to cut down the city's tree and our staff noticed it quickly, put a stop to it. But the damage was too great," Baker said.

The tree was already struggling after five years of drought, but Baker says it was getting healthier after an arborist began treating it about a year and a half ago.

The tree-trimming mistake comes on the heels of criticism of Frontier Communications service. The company recently took over Verizon landline-related operations in California.

A Frontier spokesperson sent NBC4 a statement about the tree, apologizing for the mistake and promising to make things right.

"They're very sorry that it happened and they're working with the city not only to replace the tree in that spot but also make some improvements to that area," Baker said.

Still, some residents who are also Frontier customers are not as forgiving.

"If I had known this tree had been removed by them I wouldn't have renewed my contract with them," Cole said.

Replacing the tree could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Frontier has promised to foot the bill.

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