By Don Ford

PLEASANTON (KPIX 5) — A massive eucalyptus tree in Pleasanton, which some say may be the largest tree in the city, is set to be cut down Wednesday to the chagrin of some local residents.

It towers above Pleasanton’s downtown area at Lions Wayside Park, standing than a 100 feet tall, possibly 150 years old and more than 20 feet in diameter at the base. City spokeswoman Cindy Chin says it’s sick and dying with an incurable sulphur fungus, and the tree must be removed for safety purposes.

“We didn’t really want to take it down,” said Chin. “We would rather have the tree stay but, unfortunately with this fungus, that’s incurable. We can’t save the tree and we don’t want branches falling onto the public.”

“That’s their cover story!” countered Jack Bras, who help build Lions Wayside Park in 1964. He wants the tree saved. “This tree has been here all these years. If left alone, it’d probably be here another hundred years, who knows?”

Pleasanton resident Todd Myers and his buddies grew up playing in this park, playing football and eating ice cream. “Our bikes would be laying on the ground on the other side in the shade, we would lay in the shade or lean up against the tree, and that was what, 40 years ago?’

Myers believes the tree may be saved. “I thought about getting hoisted up in there, you know, sleeping in there a couple of nights,” said Myers. “I can see doing that, at least getting our point across.”

Other residents passionately protective of the tree included Jeanne Barnes who says she has a special connection with the tree.

“It actually has a heart [-shaped formation] on the back of the tree so, to me, it’s kinda like the heart of Pleasanton,” said Barnes.

Public works crews placed signs and barriers around the tree Tuesday, getting ready for chainsaws to arrive tomorrow morning. The city says because it’s so massive, it’s expected to take four days to finish the job.