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St. Agnes removing pair of spruce trees

Trees are dying, renovations require removal

May 3, 2019
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - As St. Agnes Church renovates its front entrance to make it easily accessible for all people no matter their ability, two blue spruce trees that have been on the grounds for more than 50 years must come down.

"It's a great sadness that the trees are coming, but I think the reasoning prevails," the Rev. John Yonkovig, pastor of St. Agnes, said in a phone interview Tuesday, April 30.

Yonkovig said the renovation is in response to the church's out-of-code handicapped entrance on the side of the building. He said the ramp was too steep, and in the winter, it would get so cold that the ramp would heave and jam the door. The new entrance would remove the stairs at the front of the building.

Article Photos

St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid is seen Tuesday, April 30. As the church undergoes renovations to its front entrance, the two blue spruce trees that have been on the property for more than 50 years and are dying will have to be removed.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

"It will be open to all with no handicap restrictions," Yonkovig said.

Even before the plans were made for a new entrance, Yonkovig knew the trees would have to go sooner or later. He said Paul Smith's College guest lecturer Tim Chick told him the trees were suffering from Cytospora canker, which comes from a fungus and causes trees to discolor and whither. The needles turn brown and fall while the branches start to sink.

"The trees are dying and not recovering," Yonkovig said.

The two spruce trees have been on the church grounds for more than half a century. They're strung with lights and illuminated around Christmas.

This past week, St. Agnes' congregation voted on whether to remove the trees. Yonkovig said 87% of the parishioners voted to remove the trees.

"People are always a little upset when a tree comes down, especially when it's on sacred ground," Yonkovig said. "They're not only part of the church but of Lake Placid, too. It's always difficult to let go."

The renovation began Monday, April 22, and Yonkovig said it's expected to take about six weeks to complete. As of right now, no decision has been made on what will replace the trees.



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