AUBURN — The massive evergreen tree in front of the Vincent Apartment building on Mill Street has served as New Auburn's Christmas tree for the last 30 years — but not this year.
Crews are scheduled to cut down the three-story-tall tree Thursday morning and truck it three-quarters of a mile north on Main Street, to Festival Plaza. It will be decorated there as the official Christmas tree for the city.
"It's a beautiful tree and we're going to miss it," said Rick Whiting, executive director of the Auburn Housing Authority. "But as long as we get something else in there, it should be OK."
Crews from the city and Cote Crane and Rigging of Auburn are scheduled to begin cutting the tree at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, according to Rick Hersom of Auburn Public Works.
"It's getting to the point now that it's getting hard to decorate," Hersom said. "It's too tall, outgrowing its base, and it's not all that healthy."
That's a shame, according to Maurice Fournier, of 30 Fourth St. The tree has been New Auburn's community Christmas tree for the last 30 years.
"I'm concerned, because I think they could find another tree someplace else," Fournier said. "Let us keep our Christmas tree. But I think it's just too far gone to save it now."
But Ken Blais, of Rolly's Diner, said the change could be a good thing. The tree has been across the street from his restaurant as long as he can remember.
"But as long as we get another tree somewhere, it'll be fine," Blais said. "It's big, but I don't think it's been maintained all that much. As long as we get a tree to decorate somewhere, I don't mind."
The housing authority is scheduled to finish work on the Vincent
Apartment building next month. The tree, on a triangular sliver of land
between the building and the South Main Street/Mill Street
intersection, will be replaced.
"There is a lot we can do with
that space," Whiting said. "There's room there for a little park, or a
bench and some green space. It's unused now because of the tree. But it
might be nice to get something there for our residents. That's what
we're hoping for."
Auburn Ward 5 City Councilor Ray Berube agreed. Berube's ward includes New Auburn.
"We have what's shaping up to be a very nice looking building down there, but that tree is hiding it," Berube said. "So I'm all in favor of cutting it down, on the condition that we have another, just as nice, but 6 or 8 feet tall. That could grow into a nice Christmas tree over the next few years."