For four years a lone Japanese maple tree has stood as the sole survivor of the natural gas explosion that rocked North Bend during the early morning hours of April 25, 2014.
But time marches on and things change. Construction recently started that will bring a new building – Phoenix Plaza – with retails space and 37 apartments to the explosion site.
But what about the tree?
Well, it seem City of North Bend Economic Development Manager and Planner – and soon to be mother – Lynn Hyde made it a point to ensure the tree lives on as a symbol of resilience in the post-explosion era.
Lynn wa in contact with the Phoenix Plaza developer, Manoj Dipankar, and happily reported that he agreed to make every attempt to save the tree, including taking extra precautions by working around it during clearing and grading and giving the tree a good soaking prior to its relocation from the blast site.
The City of North Bend recently worked with Si View Parks to move the maple tree to nearby Torguson Park’s new Pump Track where it will be protected in a central location for the community to enjoy.
According to a city press release, “Even though its survival is not guaranteed due to the stress of moving, Si View is working hard to ensure it has the best chance.”
And if you see the tree and wonder why it’s leaning, Si View Parks Operations Manager Dave Dembeck said he believes that’s due to the explosion. He explained, “I tried to straighten it up, but it wanted no part of it. The tree wanted to stay the way it has been growing since the blast.”
When it was moved, the roots were all intact and to straighten it meant one side of the root ball would’ve been up in the air and exposed – so the tree was planted in its current ‘leaning’ state.
Dembeck has also named the tree ‘the Momma Lynn tree’ – after Lynn Hyde who championed for its continued survival as the explosion site moved toward re-development. He believes it has a 99% chance of survival.
“This is Lynn’s tree all the way. She saw the diamond in the rough and saved its life,” said Dembeck.