Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Victim

When a reader called yesterday to tell me about the tree in front of City Hall, I didn't realize that there was basis for his fear that the tree might be coming down. A tree in the 400 block of Warren Street had already been cut to facilitate the installation of a new streetlight.

Judging from the size of the stump, which has yet to be removed, this was a fairly major tree. I didn't count the rings, but I would hazard a guess that the tree had graced the street for more than a decade, perhaps two, and now it's gone--cut down so that a new streetlight could be installed in exactly the same place where an old streetlight had stood for thirty years.

Trees make a street more attractive and improve air quality. They encourage foot traffic; it's more pleasant to walk on a street with trees. Can't we respect our street trees for the valuable benefits they provide instead of treating them like expendable inconveniences?


  1. Have you asked the various government people about this? It really seems unnecessary for them to cut down the trees, probably easier, but hardly necessary. And it makes the street hotter and all the good things you said will be missing, and a decades worth of growth lost.
    It is a shame.

  2. I confess, Tom, that, beyond calling DPW yesterday to ask about the locust in front of City Hall, I have not spoken with the "various government people." Frankly, I think it's their responsibility to explain their actions to the people of Hudson not mine.

    It's possible that, since the number of streetlights on Warren Street is being reduced by half, there's a concern about tree branches blocking the light--which may have been the justification for cutting down the tree in front of 444 and 446 Warren Street and removing a significant portion of the tree in front of City Hall--but in my opinion a little judicious pruning could have remedied that problem to everyone's satisfaction.

  3. did you see the tree before they cut it down? If not why not ask before huffing and puffing. I live nearby and it was a goner. They will now plant one alive and well and even you will smile again.

  4. David William VoorheesJune 2, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    In the middle of the decade a city tree commission was established by Peter Markou and Rick Scalera in the wake of a DEC grant for trees on the 200 block of Union Street. I believe the Commission was chaired by David Dew Brunner, with Hilary Hillman, Rainier Judd, and Joe Connelly, as members. Unfortunately, the commission became defunct with the Tracey administration. I think it is imperative that the commission be reactivated and a a cohesive policy be developed for the planting and care of trees in the city.

  5. Thanks, Carole for posting what I have referred to as arborcide. There were some DPW guys repainting the zebra in front of my building this morning near the fire hydrant, and they claimed the tree was rotten, hollow. That tree has been my friend since I bought 446 Warren Street, 15 years ago. What's worse is that they left a 2 foot high stump sticking out of the ground--a trip-and-fall liability waiting to happen. Can you recommend which authority I might contact to see about planting a tree? Thanks again, Philip Alvaré

  6. Most likely it could have survived with proper feeding and pruning. I believe it was a Tilia cordata, or Little Leaf Linden and bloomed with a fragrance I'll forever conflate with Spring. Poor fallen, stalwart friend, it must have survived nearly a quarter century. I'll count the rings, where there's no evidence of rot, or hollowness apparent in the severed stump, and report back in my next post. If the "Anonymous" commentator has the authority to know the tree will be replaced and another planted, then perhaps they also know if it's possible to recommend a particular species.

  7. I don't condone the removal of any mature trees in Hudson - but this particular tree was, at best, half dead - or half alive, for several years now.

  8. It's always sad to see a tree cut down. I have to comment, however, that I do not see people in Hudson caring for the boulevard trees. They need water, especially the first couple years after planting. Lack of water is the biggest cause of death for newly planted trees.

  9. Philip, linden trees provide shade and have more longevity than the ubiquitous pear which seems to be popular nowadays. I believe Vince's trees across the street are lindens. You should talk to Rob Perry, head of DPW and the city should plant it, at least.


  10. actually I have Locust Trees - they are historically found at all early building sites in the valley - and are very heat resistant to the asphalt of Warren Street

  11. Vince, besides the misleading nomenclature Locust Grove, Locusts are not as historically common as you might imagine. In fact, AJ Downing called them a "meager tree", and I quote: "Now there are many districts where the native luxuriance of the oak woods points out the perfect adaptation of the soil for this tree. If we mistake not, such is the case where that charming rural town in this state, Canandaigua, stands. Yet we confess we were not a little pained in walking through the streets of Canandaigua the past season to find them mainly lined with that comparatively meagre tree, the locust. How much finer and more imposing, for the long principal street of Canandaigua, would be an avenue of our finest and hardiest native oaks, rich in foliage and grand in every part of their trunks and branches"

    In addition, locusts only live about 120 years. So any locusts planed in AJ Davis' time would have died by now. They are great street trees because of their tolerance for compacted alkaline soil, but they are anything but historical. And frankly, if we want hardy street trees, I would vote for london plane trees in front of my house on Lower Union.

    I've just completed the second part of a Historic Tree survey in Hudson, so it is my hope any Tree Committee draft would please get in touch with me.

  12. Interesting information David.
    While the Oak Tree is highly regarded it boils down to a matter of taste. It is the Locust Tree that has been historically found, along with the Lilac Bush at all the early German/Dutch house sites of the Hudson River Valley - especially in this area. These trees are easily identified in paintings.
    I don't buy the 120 year life span. These trees grow to be ancient knarly silhouettes so romanticized in local lore - easily identified at 18th c sites. In fact one can usually discover an early stone foundation lurking among the columned trunks of abandoned farms.

  13. If the City really believed the tree was a "goner," they might have taken the minute it required to explain that to the property owner rather than just getting out the chainsaw and going at it. This is another symptom of the general disdain of property owners emanating from City Hall.

    As Philip notes above, he was in fact very familiar with the tree in front of his place, and did not consider it sickly. The photo of the stump above is hardly hollow, as claimed; and indeed it has the look of a healthy tree.

    More likely the crews responsible just thought it was quicker or easier to cut it down, and are now inventing these "sickly" and "goner" justifications after the fact, now that their hasty act has been exposed to public scrutiny.

    Back when Butterworth needlessly and abruptly took down the locusts on Warren, I intervened to insist on at least choosing what trees would be planted in front of my (old) place. I proposed that the City let me know what their budget for each tree was, and that if I chose something more expensive, I'd pay the difference. I selected two sycamores, which are a tall and beautiful tree often seen flourishing in even the harshest urban conditions. The trees are still there, and still young; they will be massive someday, without harming the sidewalks, assuming some future administration doesn't concoct another makework project claiming all the sidewalks and trees have to be replaced yet again in 10-15 years.

    Lastly: How about identifying yourself, Anonymous? Assertions are rendered less credible when a person won't put their name to them, because it suggests they don't really have confidence in their own words.

  14. David Marston--I'm very interested in your Tree Inventory and would like to feature some of the at-risk trees in the city on Gossips. Maybe some attention could get them the care they need. I would be grateful if you would contact me to discuss this:


  15. I'm much less familiar with tree species in painting, beyond that Lombardy poplar! Thanks Vince, that's really very cool. I guess it would make sense to see locusts planted on farms as they were used for fence posts, boat planking, mine timbers, very resistant to rot. Locusts are really only 100 year old trees though, I'm sure the economic value kept them replanted. They are aggressive propagators as well. I have one in front of my house, I love it.

    Carole I'll let you know when I have something more substantial than raw data, but I'm not as interested in 'at-risk' than 'need protection', maybe under Historic Hudson stewardship, as they are part of Hudson's incredible built fabric. One such fig. is The American Elm on the alley of S. Sterling's house, an incredible tree.