Letter: Tree Removal

Norway maple

One of the Norway Maples on Parrott Street that has been marked for removal (Photo by Ross Corsair)

We would like to comment on the scheduled tree removal on Parrott Street in Cold Spring. The last of the five tall, mature trees has been marked. It seems a bit aggressive to me to remove all five at the same time.

We’ve lived on this street for 27 years. The first thing we noticed when we drove down the street were the beautiful old, tall trees that lined both sides. What’s left of them gives Parrott Street a charm all its own.

Thinking back, several years ago a limb came down in front of our house and then-Mayor Seth Gallagher took the time to come and meet with us. He contacted an arborist, and several limbs were removed. It’s still out front, although for now it’s slated for removal.

Five trees that have survived the better part of a century all reaching a stage requiring removal at the same time seems unusual. We anticipate that on Halloween in 2021, when 800 to 1,000 children come to our door, their reaction will be, “What on earth happened?”

In the last couple of years several mature trees have been cut down, such as the monumental and unique tree on the corner of Bank and Parrott. This has already altered the look and the shade on the street.

We would like to know if there is a plan moving forward. Shouldn’t there be some consideration given to replacing at least some of the trees with one of the native species? Can this be phased over the next few years so that there is some variety of appearance? Parrott Street was here when Abraham Lincoln came to inspect the West Point Foundry and we suspect it wasn’t lined with ornamental dwarf trees.

We hope they’ll still be here for us to see the trees change color this year, because we have not been apprised of their scheduled removal.

Jeff Barrett and Diana Stenzel, Cold Spring

We asked Jennifer Zwarich, chair of the village Tree Advisory Board, to respond. She wrote:

“As volunteers committed to protecting our village trees, the members of the Tree Advisory Board understand the sadness expressed here and agree that the removal of these aging Norway Maples and all the gifts they provide will be a deep loss for lower Parrott Street and for our community forest. This decision was not made lightly and not without years of trying other options with all of our heart and hope. With a commitment to conservation, we have had tree professionals monitor and advise on the care of these trees over the past many years and have used public funds to prune several and install cables on one, and have tried our best to keep them, even though they are clearly in decline, as long as we could reasonably ensure public safety.

“Unfortunately, their condition has deteriorated more rapidly in the last few years, and the village has received numerous complaints about the safety of these trees from other residents of the street. We have been advised by an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture on each tree and cannot in good conscience continue to take our preferred graduated approach to their management. We have already planted five trees on this block over the past several years to help mitigate this loss and plan to plant more trees on Parrott Street as soon as enough funds are raised. We hope residents will consider donating to speed this effort. See coldspringtree.weebly.com.”

3 thoughts on “Letter: Tree Removal

  1. Often, we don’t realize how much we need or love particular trees until we lose them. I saw tears shed on my block when a stately maple necessarily came down about a decade ago—by grown folks, and not just me! My kids were little then. They were so sad they put together a “thank you” ceremony to express our family’s gratitude for the tree’s service as shade, shelter and beauty.

    Before the adoption of Cold Spring’s Village Tree Ordinance, there was no public notice before street trees came down. One day, a truck would arrive, there was a lot of noise, and a tree was gone. It usually wasn’t replaced, because there wasn’t a plan or money to do so. Now, with the tree ordinance in place, we have an opportunity—and a municipal mechanism, via the Tree Advisory Board—to advocate for our public trees and be part of the decision-making process to manage our “community forest.”

    The Tree Advisory Board actively monitors our public trees, cares for them to extend their lives, and, when trees are necessarily removed, ensures that they are replaced with as many caliper inches of new trees as possible. The Village Board has made proactive decisions to invest budget and staff time to the stewardship of our public trees. The Village budget doesn’t have a lot to spare, so spending on public trees must be is offset by grants and generous donations from private citizens. You, too, can contribute by making a gift to the Village and requesting that it be earmarked for tree planting.

    The tree ordinance (and the Tree Advisory Board it requires) was the brainchild of resident Jen Zwarich. She will demur and acknowledge everyone else who worked with her; she’s very humble. Yes, many Villagers stepped forward to help Jen’s vision become reality. But she inspired them, she organized them, and she made sure the hard work got done right. She and the Tree Advisory Board steward our public trees with deep dedication. They make decisions about the fate of our trees based on facts, knowledge and professionalism. And I’m going to guess that when they finally do have to decide to take a public tree down, their hearts are as heavy and teary as my kids’ hearts were that day on the sidewalk a decade ago.

    Cold Spring is very lucky to have a tree ordinance, and to have a Tree Advisory Board filled volunteers who bring content expertise, passion and dedication to public service. I’m grateful to them, and especially to Jen Zwarich.

  2. While acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of Jen Zwarich, the original letters point stands: we are talking about the sudden removal of five trees on one block. I understand that the Tree Advisory Board is acting on the recommendation of an arborist. If the decision was that a tree needed to come down, that would seem sufficient. Given the recommendation to take five trees down simultaneously, five trees that have stood through many storms and are unlikely to be all at a similar state of instability at once, one would wish that a second opinion was obtained before undertaking such a severe program.

    This is not to say the decision is arbitrary or made lightly. But given the fact that all of the trees are still fully producing leaves, even if one determines that they are all getting to end of life, it seems more likely that trees can be cut down over years, on a schedule in which the budget supports replacing any trees removed. Given the high cost of removing the trees, both in dollars and in diminishing the environment, I would hope a second arborist can be brought in to verify that this draconian step is in fact required.

  3. I loved those trees when I lived on Parrott Street in the 1950s. What a sad ending. [via Facebook]