LAKE RONKONKOMA - A historic tree that dates to 1820 will be cut down in Lake Ronkonkoma, saddening local history-lovers and the owner of the property where the tree stands.
The 100-foot European copper beech tree was imported from England and planted two centuries ago. Suffolk County declared it a historic landmark back in 2012. But experts say it has died of old age and needs to be removed before it falls on its own.
The tree is on Virginia Schutte's property on Lake Shore Drive. She says her family has made many memories in its shade over the years.
Ellyn Okvist, with the Lake Ronkonkoma Heritage Association, says the towering tree welcomed everyone who entered the area.
The tree is leaving behind its legacy in the form of a small sapling that sprouted on its own. "The only thing I'm grateful for is that I did have an offspring come up on the property, so I saved that and moved it to an area where it could flourish," Schutte says.
Schutte also plans to replace the tree with a wooden sculpture carved out of the tree's trunk.
The challenge now is removing the tree, which measures 28 feet around the base of its trunk. Arborist Gaetano Cerullo is up for the challenge, and he says it will require heavy equipment.