Tom’s replacement to put down roots

Burlingame residents may have lost “Tom,” their favorite 130-year-old eucalyptus tree, last month, but a replacement will be coming Saturday — the first of Tom’s 450 great-grandchildren.

One of the conditions of cutting down the blue gum eucalyptus on tree-lined Easton Drive was the planting of a replacement, which will be done during a ceremony Saturday. The sidewalk tree was loved by many but was dangerously jutting out into the road, to the point where motorists could not drive on its side of the street.

A shorter, thinner eucalyptus will be planted and souvenir “slices” of Tom will be given away at the event, Parks and Recreation Department Director Randy Schwartz said.

The ceremony will kick off a citywide tree-planting program, introducing 450 new trees during the next three years, Schwartz said. The city received a $68,403 grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and matched it with $5,000 from the general fund.

Anyone in the city can get a tree planted by the street in front of their house for free, and they can receive more than one for a fee. Residents can call the city and choose from a variety of trees that fit their home, with Parks and Recreation Department representatives doing the planting.

Tom was initially voted out in December 2006 and again in August after many community members became upset. The topic was even more derisive because huge trees and their large canopies are Easton Drive’s trademarks, and Tom was the centerpiece in front of the Easton Branch Library, Schwartz said.

Without planting trees to replace the ones that inevitably become unhealthy or safety hazards, Schwartz said, “we would have stripped Easton of the very thing that’s making it special.”

The planting will be held in front of the Easton Branch Library on 1800 Easton Drive at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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