Plans to dismantle the massive Lovers’ Oak on Lake Morton were put on hold last month as Hurricane Irma approached. The conjoined trees at the foot of Success Avenue got another stay of execution today when city commissioners said they want to look at all options. 

At the end of a marathon commission meeting, Edie Yates based her request for more discussion on a column in The Ledger on Sunday by David Price, a horticulturist and president at Bok Tower Gardens.

Price said after inspecting the live oak, he believes it to be fit in contrast with nearby laurel oaks that suffered damage from Irma. Price’s conclusion: The city should focus its resources on “sound arboricultural evaluation and work” on the Lovers Oak and strive to replace the precarious laurel oaks around town with live oaks.

City officials announced in August that the tree couldn’t be saved and would be removed in September since it poses a liability threat. After a limb falling from the tree nearly totaled a passing car, the city had the tree evaluated by E. Sciences Inc. of Orlando.

“Two city of Lakeland certified arborists and an outside consultant inspected the trees and determined that, while in average-good health, it was impossible to ensure public safety through any other action other than removal,” the city said in a news release in July.

A date for the discussion has not been set yet. While the idea of having the tree evaluated again was raised, the commission decided to talk about it before spending more money.

“Arborists are like lawyers,” Commissioner Don Selvage said. “You ask four and you get three different opinions.”

The E. Sciences report:

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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