It was arguably the biggest news story in Newcastle's history. [Oh wait ... the earthquake, BHP, the Star Hotel, the Japanese shelling. OK, at least in the top 10!]
Former independent councillors Aaron Buman, Bob Cook and Graham Boyd had a reunion of sorts, a decade after the 14 figs were cut down.
Aaron said he heard recently that the fig tree arch was almost back.
"So we decided to have a big catch-up. We caught up, took a photo under the arch and had a nice dinner," Aaron said.
Reflecting on the fig fiasco, Aaron said: "It was a horrible time".
"It destroyed the council's reputation. We made national news over a riot over fig trees because we let it get away from us. [The riot squad was called to contain about 100 protestors]
"Emotion really took over with the whole decision-making process. It went on and on. We copped a lot of criticism personally, which was unnecessary because it wasn't an easy decision."
He said the media - including the Newcastle Herald - kept the council to account over the matter.
"I still have in my hallway a picture of a Peter Lewis cartoon [on the fig tree issue]."
He said Bob Cook had kept all the paperwork.
"He has drawings of where the trees were supposed to be after 10 years and that's where they're at, which is good," Aaron said.
Aaron said the Laman Street decision "gave the council the confidence to move across the city and make the hard decisions on fig trees".
"A lot of fig trees have been removed from the city because they were planted in places they shouldn't be."
He also referred to several large figs later falling in Newcastle's Civic Park and Laman Street during a storm as "more evidence the right decision was made".
Former Greens councillor Michael Osborne was among councillors who opposed the figs' removal.
"Taking out those big old trees should always be the last resort. They have such value in keeping the area cool and shady and all that carbon they've sequestered. They make people happier," Michael said.
"What we were saying at the time was that council can manage the risk from the trees and the trees themselves. They don't need to come out."
He said the Laman Street area "hasn't been a pleasant place to be", as removal of the figs made the area hotter.
"You just have to look at Council Street where they took out all the trees there. There's a range of issues why they made that decision, but in summertime it's made those houses hotter."
He added that removal of the Laman Street figs affected wildlife.
"The wildlife won't be making use of the existing trees for quite a while," he said.
He said three leading arborists found that the council had "overestimated risk and underestimated value" around the figs.
Reflecting on the fiasco, he said: "It wasn't a good time in Newcastle's history. It really did push the council's credibility and the community's trust in council. Council could have done it differently."
He noted that the trees were replaced with the same species - Hills figs.
"Some of those conservative councillors didn't want Hills figs back in there," he said.
"They were chosen because they produced that arch canopy cathedral effect. The difference is they've been planted properly. Council put them in these big vaults with rocks. They keep away from underground infrastructure, which is the right way to plant street trees."
Bob Cook quipped that the fig tree battle was "the biggest thing to happen in Newcastle for a couple of lifetimes".
"It was a pretty big deal. Since then the world has changed, those trees have grown and that street has come back to life.
"The idea was they would grow big like the other ones and create an arch, which was what a lot of people were emotional about.
"We think we did the right thing and the city is better for it."
Bob said there was a lot of controversy and anger over the figs.
"We had threats," he said.
He added that the fiasco was costly.
"It wasn't a cheap fight. There was a string of costs associated with the debate, fencing and security. It ended up being a fight that took a couple of millions dollars."
Bob said "the trees weren't stable".
"They were very top heavy and high and large. These trees had been planted 80 years or more ago and were in need of replacement."
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.