Aug 04, 2010 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
When the village of Marcellus wanted to cut down the Black Maple tree that towers over Tim Golick’s house at 2 Reed Street, over 150 signed petitions saying “no.”
The village board had unanimously agreed to take down the tree in order to, for one, install a sidewalk on the north side of lower Reed Street. Mayor John Curtin gave numerous justifications for this in a July 7 letter to the residents written in response to the petitions.
“One of the most important factors contributing to the quality of life enjoyed by residents of the Village of Marcellus is its walk-ability, and our village is a community where one can meet most daily needs on foot and where walking is an interesting, enjoyable and generally safe activity,” wrote Curtin.
After review of the petitions, the board had decided to go ahead with its original construction plans and not spare the tree.
At the time, the tree had been deemed the New York State Champion Black Maple by John Graham, forester for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Dan Deyle, certified arborist, had found it to be “in good health with no visible signs of root and/or drown decay, or structural problems that generally lead to removal.”
On July 8, upon notification from Tim Golick that the village planned to go ahead with its original plan to cut down the tree, Gerald Gray, acting executive director for American Forests’ National Register of Big Trees, wrote a letter to the mayor.
In his letter, Gray outlined the ecological, and even financial, benefits the tree provides to the village of Marcellus.
“From cooling the neighborhood in which it’s located and saving money on energy costs, to filtering air pollutants and improving air quality, this champion tree represents all the good work trees do for the environment,” he wrote. “Long established and big trees, in particular, clean the air and improve water quality, help offset carbon emissions, provide habitat to wildlife, reduce storm water runoff, and raise real estate value.”
Gray also noted the positive impact “Big Trees” have on the community around them thanks to their iconic stature.
“I strongly urge you, as the Mayor of the Village of Marcellus, to do everything in your power to prevent the removal of the State Champion Black Maple under the Reed Street Reconstruction Project and to find an alternative solution to save this tree,” Gray wrote.
The tree is not coming down — at least not for now — thanks to the efforts of Tim Golick.
On July 9, Golick wrote a letter to the mayor. He started it by saying he had been advised that the tree was on his property, which extends to the middle of Reed Street.
“The Village Right of Way does not impart any authority to remove this tree or to cause it any detrimental effects without our concurrence,” Golick wrote, adding that any harm caused to the tree by construction might result in legal action.
Golick had met with Allen Yager, the village’s engineer, to discuss alternative, tree-friendly routes for the construction. In his letter, Golick quoted Yager as having said, “a compromise is in order.”
On July 13, Curtin wrote back to Golick proposing a possible agreement. Curtin agreed to accept Golick’s request to work the construction around the tree. The catch? Golick, as requested by the village, would have to assume total liability for the tree.
The village also requested that the cost of paying a certified arborist to witness any excavation under the canopy of the tree be “borne to the homeowner at #2 Reed Street as well as by those who petitioned to save the tree.”
Which brings us to today
In a village board meeting held July 26, Curtin briefed the board and residents that a tentative compromise between the village and Golick had been reached. He noted that Golick had agreed to assume full legal responsibility and liability for the tree.
“In exchange the village will not remove the tree; we will work the reconstruction of the road and sidewalk around it,” Curtin said.
Golick came to the meeting to make public his disagreement with the notion that petition signers might assist him in paying for future upkeep of the tree.
“No assistance will be anticipated, nor sought from any of those friends and neighbors who petitioned to save the tree,” Golick said. “Such an expectation would be improper and an affront to any who exercised their democratic rights to petition their local government.”
He added, “Indeed some people might find that incredulous.”
In response, Curtin said village attorney James Dwyer had already corrected him on that. Dwyer had noted to Curtin that it was not possible to include others in the legal agreement between Golick and the village. Golick said he understood this, but felt it necessary to put an end to any rumors that he might expect petition signers to assist him financially.
“My thought was that perhaps you could get some people to help you pay for it, that’s all I suggested,” Curtin said. “Rather than you bearing the whole cost, that those [petition signers] might want to help you pay for the arborist and put their money where their signatures are.”
Golick concluded by saying he simply wanted to set the record straight. Golick and the village continue to work toward a legal agreement in regards to the tree.