The Monkey Tree will stay.

The tree's fate came into question as the city's Canyon Boulevard resurfacing project proceeded, with two dozen people last week protesting the planned felling of the century-old black walnut.

Protesters were of all ages, some holding signs, and all were unhappy to learn that the tree was scheduled to be cut down, according to Rhonda Burdick, one of the protesters.

The black walnut tree on the corner of Canyon Boulevard and Second Avenue is known as the Monkey Tree because a monkey that had escaped from a traveling circus years ago took refuge in it.

Resident Albert Newman said he had been told by one of the contractors that the tree was to be cut down at a later date.

"The original plan showed the tree staying," said neighborhood resident Robert Watt. "Up until last Thursday that was the plan. Now they've decided to cut it down and auction it off to the highest bidder."

Watt said the explanation he was given by City Administrator Peggy Carey was that the utility company would be digging a ditch to lay cable, and would possibly cut some of the tree's roots, weakening it. It was also mentioned that it obstructs the views of motorists.

"It's an abrupt change," said Watt, who noted that neither issue had been raised in prior engineering studies or public meetings.

According to the city, however, there was no change.

Carey explained that the project was hurried in the hopes that a better deal could be made for asphalt, working in concert with the Hooker Creek resurfacing project.

Carey expressed some surprise over the resistance and complaints surrounding the project, not just the Monkey Tree. The city will pick up half the cost of the new sidewalks, which, as she pointed out, is unusual.

In the end, she added, the city followed the wishes of the protesters, and decided to let the tree alone.

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