Tuesday, September 15, 2015

How Did This Happen?

Whether or not they are consciously aware, every resident of Hudson and every visitor to our city suffered an irreparable loss yesterday when the pin oaks in front of 364-366 Warren Street were brutally pruned.

The question of how something so awful could happen to such venerable trees on Hudson's main street has been raised by many. Gossips has received a report from someone who witnessed the horror and, to answer the question, recounts the essence of that report.

The pruning was being directed by Jason O'Toole, director of property management for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, who was on the phone throughout with Eric Galloway, sending pictures and receiving instructions. Many present were in a panic as more and more limbs fell, among them the owner of the tree service, which reportedly had been hired to "trim and clean out the dead wood," and one of the owners of Hudson Home, whose new courtyard garden was being planted at the same time the trees were being "trimmed." For a while there was hope that some of the lower limbs might be spared, but in the end they came down.

Four years ago, in September 2011, in the wake of the chainsaw massacre at 25 Union Street, David Marston appeared before the Common Council Legal Committee to present a petition, with two hundred signatures, urging the Council to adopt a tree preservation ordinance. If the Council had acted on that proposal, the irreparable damage visited yesterday on the pin oaks at Warren and Fourth streets might have been prevented.

The picture above was taken in August 2013.


  1. ​Trimming a Pin Oak, or any deciduous tree this time of year, ​is a mistake. They should be trimmed when dormant to avoid fungus growth.

    Pin Oaks are usually trimmed by removing lower branches, which tend to grow downward toward the ground. The tops aren't trimmed.

    Any dead wood should be removed, and can be done any time if need be.

    Branches that cross each other should be removed and the time to do this is when they are young, but Pin Oaks seldom have crossed branches.

    Important trees are an investment and should be taken care of by an arborist. Perhaps the owner of tree company is one, or at least has a good knowledge of trees, and that why he was in a panic.

    Are you sure these are Pin Oaks? If so I hope the planting at Hudson Home are compatible.

    1. The trees are positively identified as Pin Oaks (Quercus palustris).

  2. The City's Proprietors founded a regulatory framework for the appearance of their city which must have been unusual for the time.

    At their first meeting, held May 14, 1784 (six months after the last defeated British troops left New York City), a committee of six headed by Seth Jenkins was appointed to "attend in a particular manner to the fixings of the buildings uniformly."

    While architectural styles and aesthetics have changed, there's every reason to continue, and even to build upon, the Proprietors' concern for aesthetics.

    To extend these same values to trees makes even more sense once you factor in the significant functional benefits of trees in the urban landscape.

    Anyone coming to Hudson to buy buildings and houses, perhaps by the dozen, and who also dislikes tree ordinances, should have done better research on Hudson's history before investing here. The city was founded with aesthetic standards in mind, established from the very first regulation.

    (It's also worth noting that the desire to regulate building accessories and trimmings for uniformity issued more from a sense of traditionalism rather than from what we'd now call regulatory progressivism. In many ways, the Quakers were an amalgam of the two tendencies.)

  3. Sad but not surprising.
    Actually, expected.
    He likes to show off his ugly buildings.

    1. These are lollipop trees, like you see in a child's drawing.

      There are two kinds of trees: ugly trees (those get cut down), and cookie-cutter trees.

      Lollipop trees have the same happy faces you see on parking lot trees at shopping malls.

      It will happen so slowly, but we'll begin to see controllable, repeatable, non-native tree species cropping up everywhere in Hudson, transforming the city's greenery into the equivalent of lawn kitsch or children's art.

      Only legislation can protect us.

  4. I'm surprised that prick didn't just chop them down.