farewell to a fine tree

– stump created Oct. 20, 2010 at 33 Front St.

. . . 

– Devin watches a City crew trim the tree in front of 33 Front St. on October 14, 2010 –

[as always click on a photo for a larger version and scroll over it for a description]

Little did Devin and I know last week (October 14) when we watched a crew trimming the locust tree in front of 33 Front Street that it was being groomed for an execution six days later.

. . . or, did Devin know better than I? . . .

. . . that this would be the scene when we stopped by one week later (Oct. 21):

— Nothing to block our view of Lawrence with the ill-fated tree gone —

When I heard on Wednesday afternoon that the mature, healthy-looking shade tree in front of Nancy and Fred Jonas’ home had been chopped down earlier that day, I made a quick stop to see the (irrevocable) carnage and take a few photos.

– tree stump with sawdust in front of 33 Front St. the day the tree was chopped down –

– from stump

. . .

. .  to trunk to top (taken Oct. 14) that tree sure looked healthy –

As you can see, however, the roots of the tree had disrupted the adjacent sidewalk.

Was the tree ill despite its apparent good health? No. Was the buckled sidewalk enough to seal its fate?  Did the tree offend someone in some other way?  Was every alternative adequately considered before permission was given and the decision was made to remove the tree? I later learned that it was the inconvenience of dealing with the various leaves, twigs, and similar droppings, that made the owners want it removed.

  • By the Way: Within a few years, the Jonases had moved away. The day I met the new owners at their front stoop, they said they wondered why all the other houses had a tree in front of them on their block, but their house did not. Don’t get me started.

As the masthead above suggests, I think we should do all we can to preserve every healthy tree in the Stockade .  More than ever, I  believe — as argued in a posting on June 18, 2010 — that “Schenectady needs a tree preservation policy.”

The City of Portland, Oregon got it right on its Parks and Recreation webpage (emphasis added):

STREET TREE REMOVAL: for trees growing in the right-of-way, between the curb and sidewalk:

Portland’s urban forest is a valuable asset, and all trees on public property are protected. Trees provide increasing benefits as they grow, and mature trees are an asset that requires decades to replace. Urban Forestry carefully considers each and every request to remove a street tree, and encourages tree planting, regular tree maintenance, and alternatives to tree removal except where no viable alternative exists. Street trees can only be removed if they meet the criteria of being dead, dying, or dangerous. Conditions that do not warrant removal include the tree dropping fruit or leaves, the tree being perceived as too tall or making too much shade, or the cost of routine maintenance.

What do you think?  I hope Devin will be around to benefit from the beauty, shade and other attributes of the tiny tree that is purportedly going to be planted to replace the mature one felled this week.  I fear that neither I, nor the rest of my Baby Boom generation neighbors, or our elders, will be so lucky, especially since the replacement trees are not actually meant to be tall enough to reach true shade tree status.

[Follow-up: the Jonases had the stump quickly removed and then had a new sidewalk poured over the spot. No replacement new tree was planted. update: Still no replacement tree, March 20, 2016.]  Please tell our local leaders that we need a tree preservation policy in Schenectady — especially for the Stockade and other historic districts.

follow-up (October 26, 2010):  Thanks to Tom Hodgkins of N. Ferry St., I can present a more complete image of the felled locust tree:

Here are two other photos captured from 2007 Google Street Views:

33Front-Google2007a . . . 33Front-Google2007

That locust tree was responsible for creating some great shadows on the sunny day we had a month before its demise, at the 2010 Outdoor Art Show:

 follow-up: By the September 2013 Outdoor Art Show, the magic of shadow and light was long gone. More tragic, 33 Front Street was For Sale, meaning that the tree died to save a few years of sidewalk raking and perhaps gutter cleaning. Incidentally, the new owners, not knowing my past interest in that tree, asked me the day I met them on their front stoop why that house had no tree, when the pattern suggested that each house would have one. I think my reply might have been “Don’t get me started.”


– above: Kathy Mindel’s exhibit, September 2013, at 33 Front Street  

2 thoughts on “farewell to a fine tree

  1. As far as I know, the tree in front of 33 Front St is the third tree massacre in the past 4 weeks or so. There was a tree removed across from 9 Front St and then another at the Ingersoll end of the bike path. Well, that one wasn’t actually removed in total, they left a six foot tall “stump”.

    And I’m not too sure why some are complaining about the condition of the sidewalks down here. I walk my dogs quite a bit all over the city and with the exception of the sidewalk running along the side of 15 Washington, the sidewalks really aren’t bad at all.

    As for “ugly” trees, as someone noted in a post on this site from April, lets consider how the trees may have gotten to be that way in the first place. They are not cared for by the utility companies when they trim, they just hack away at them without regard.

    • Michelle, That trunk-stump at the end of Ingersoll looks like a great Halloween prop, doesn’t it? I have no idea whether it was healthy or not or why it came down.

      The sidewalk at 33 Front is quite buckled, but without more facts am not willing to conclude it warranted a death sentence for the tree.

      Sadly, some people refer to some trees as ugly or not worth treasuring as a matter of style preferences or because they are not grand enough. But, you are quite right to point out that the utility companies have needlessly despoiled many trees.

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