Cootamundra Junior Rugby League Club has been given a council go-ahead for the removal of two 80-year-old river red gums from the club's playing fields at Nicholson Park.
At its July meeting, the council knocked back a recommendation that the trees be preserved, and that the junior league be required to place padding around the base of the trees and associated light towers before sporting activities.
A recommendation before council argued the trees should be preserved because they were a "wonderful sculpture within their immediate landscape", and because they delivered shade during summer and would create habitat for birds and other wildlife.
However three Cootamundra councillors, Crs Dennis Palmer, Gil Kelly and Charlie Sheahan, agreed with the club's argument that the trees limited their ability to provide a safe playing surface for junior football, with too small a distance between the trees and the boundaries and dead ball lines.
Cr Palmer said that while he respected trees, these were inappropriate and in the wrong place.
"I've been there when the sporting bodies have had to pick up fallen limbs and branches, and I'd hate to think we had 20 juniors there and a limb falls," he said.
Cr Kelly said public safety had to be a priority, and one of the trees had dropped branches just missing a group of children under it.
"Imagine how you would feel if a branch fell and seriously injured, or even worse, a kid at the park," he said.
"Imagine if it was your grandkid or child - how would you feel, knowing that we as a council could have stopped if from happening?"
Cr Sheahan said the trees had been there all the time the minor league had, and at first he couldn't see any issue with them.
"But thinking about it a bit more, the participants' safety is paramount," he said.
"Effective sporting and playing areas should be clear of trees, and usually are.
"Jubilee Park is more a nature reserve and the eucalypts and native trees are all there, but this is predominately a sporting field and unfortunately, for whatever reason in the past, these trees were left on that sporting field."
Council asked the parks manager, Wayne Bennett, to obtain a quote for the trees' removal. Mr Bennett told the August meeting a quote of $10,000 had been obtained from Cassidy's Bobcat and Tower Hire, including the removal of the stumps.
The council was told the junior league had received a Stronger Communities grant which would cover this cost.
It agreed that that the removal should go ahead, with the league providing half the cost of buying and planting twelve exotic trees along the southern fenceline.
- NEXT WEEK: Council adopts street tree management policy