Although many trees withstand the tests of time, all fall eventually. For two Maple trees in Cannon Park, their time has come.
Early in the week of Nov. 28, workers carefully cut down the two trees, which are believed to be more than 150 years old, and transformed the stumps into large piles of sawdust. The Cazenovia Village Board announced the removal would be occurring at its November meetings, citing the trees’ old age and related safety risks. Saplings are planned to be planted in the park come spring, village trustees said.
“The trees are obviously extremely mature, and have been on the watch list for several years. It is never easy to see our big friends go, but they are living things and sadly do not last forever. When they start to pose a risk, especially in an area which is as heavily used by the public as Cannon Park … a municipality is mandated to manage that risk,” said Deputy Mayor and Village Tree Commissioner Amy Mann. “Extensive measures were taken to prolong the lives of those trees, but I am afraid we [did] everything we [could]. With the increase in severe windstorms lately, the deadwood and structural weaknesses in the trees are of serious concern. When we do the replacement plantings, we will make every effort to follow the historic placement and species of the trees.”
Albany Street and Cannon Park are the most recognizable and historic public spaces in Cazenovia, and while the exact age of the trees is unknown, a painting housed in the Cazenovia Public Library dates the Maples back to the 19th century.
An oil painting titled “General Hough’s house on Albany Street, Cazenovia,” done by William Boardman around 1850, shows the familiar row of then-saplings along the village’s main street. The piece was given to the library by Hough’s grandson Augustus C. Stevens.
“Most of these large maples probably date from the mid-nineteenth century as part of a concerted community improvement effort at that time. So about 160 to 175 years is probably about right,” said Village Historic Preservation Chair Ted Bartlett. “It is sad to see the demise of these venerable members of Cazenovia history, but they, like people, go through a life cycle. What is additionally unfortunate, is that the village, until the past 10 years or so, has not had an aggressive tree care and replacement plan in place. Thus all the holes in the village’s historic tree canopy are all the more impacted when some of the large old seniors have to come down.”
The village works alongside the Cazenovia Tree Commission — a group of resident community volunteers which was formed in 2007 — with hopes of continuously maintaining the historic tree canopy, but it has proved difficult as the foresight did not exist decades ago when many trees were being planted. The group often gathers to plant saplings during the warmer months and plan the strategic maintenance of older trees in the area.
Last year, a number of historic trees along Lincklaen Street began to pose safety risks to residents and pedestrians and were taken down; but because of the efforts of the CTC, Cazenovia was officially recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. Mann said she plans to reapply for the designation in 2013.
Although the viewshed of Cannon Park may be a bit more barren this winter than that of years past, residents can all partake in the planting of saplings in 2013, and share in a part of history that will be remembered for years to come.
Pierce Smith is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at 434-8889 ext.338 or email@example.com.