ESTES PARK — The peace tree probably won’t find a home on Estes Park town property.
On Thursday, Estes Park’s public works committee voted to help the owner find private property for the peace tree, instead of allowing it on public property, said Public Works director Bill Linnane.
The Estes Park Board of Trustees will vote on the recommendation as part of its March 22 consent agenda, he said.
“I’m surprised,” said Paul Sterling, who owns the 12-foot-tall ponderosa pine stump with “Peace Tree” and a peace sign carved on it. “They were interested, but they’re embroiled in enough political quagmire right now that it’s a challenge.”
Earlier this month, Colorado Department of Transportation workers cut down Sterling’s peace tree on U.S. Highway 34 near Drake. Officials said it had nothing to do with the message, but it might have distracted drivers and was an advertising device that did not meet safety regulations.
Sterling said he tried two years ago to get department officials to remove the dead tree from his yard, but they didn’t take an interest until he hired a Loveland artist to carve it with a peace message.
Now it sits in his driveway, waiting for a home.
Sterling offered the peace tree to the town of Estes Park at its board meeting March 8.
The board sent the request to the public works committee for discussion, where members decided against it.
“I like the peace tree, and I certainly believe in peace,” said Trustee Chuck Levine, one of the three public works committee members. “But I could not recommend anything that could be perceived as not supporting the troops.”
Levine grew up during the Vietnam War, a time when the peace sign was not a show of support for the troops, he said.
“This is going to be useful to somebody,” Levine said. “But I don’t see it as being useful to the town at this time.”
Property owners up and down the canyon have offered to take the peace tree, and one middle school in Boulder wants it for a future peace park, Sterling said.
And there’s always eBay or a stint on “Oprah,” he said.
“I would be able to talk for it because of my background as a communication coach,” joked Sterling, who teaches nonviolent communication at jails and other organizations.
He also wants to take it to different events as sort of a mobile peace exhibit.
“Peace is a lot like our health,” he said. “When we have it, we take it for granted, and when we lose it, we’ll do anything to get it back.”