AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin spent a couple thousand dollars extra and contracted with four different tree companies before cutting down Barton Springs tree “Flo,” public information records obtained by KXAN show.
The City says it has “several certified arborists on staff, including several who are tree risk assessment qualified and one board certified master arborist.” One of those certified arborists was the one who spotted Flo’s infection, the City told KXAN.
“According to PARD’s standard procedures, this tree would have been removed once lab results confirmed the infection. However, considering the iconic significance of this particular tree, PARD wanted to take extra precautions by seeking external expertise to validate and confirm the initial assessment,” a spokesperson for the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department wrote.
The City sought external expertise to confirm Flo was unwell, four times. The City contracted Bartlett Tree Experts, Arbor Vitae Tree Care, Austin Tree Experts and Heritage Tree Care.
KXAN filed public information requests for the invoices tied to those assessments and found they cost the City $3,165.50.
All of those experts found the same thing: Flo was very likely to fall and presented an extreme risk.
The City hosted a celebration of life for the tree so that Austinites could bid the tree farewell. The City spent a little more than $378 on that celebration, our public information request found. That money was spent at Michaels, Hobby Lobby and FASTSIGNS.