It recently came to light that the Nassau County Department of Public Works has begun a project to remove close to 200 grand old trees along roads spanning Syosset, Plainview, Hicksville and Bethpage. According to the department, the decision was made to remove these 30- to 40-foot behemoths and their far-reaching roots after years of complaints from residents about buckling sidewalks and damaged roadways.
A group of concerned citizens formed a group called STOMP (Save Trees Over More Pavement) in an effort to inform residents and maybe, just maybe, stop the bulldozers before the 4.4-mile tree slaughter is carried out. The group’s major complaint: that a project of this magnitude — one that would change the landscape of many communities so drastically — would commence without a public forum ever taking place.
While we want kids to ride their bicycles and mommies to walk their baby strollers and the elderly to walk the sidewalks safely and without having to traverse dangerous terrain, we find it unfortunate and a bit suspect that the public was never offered an opportunity to have its voice heard on the issue.
And this is not the first time the County has toppled tall trees amid a measure of opposition. Most recently, about 100 oak trees along Seamans Neck Road in Seaford, Freeport and Wantagh were chopped down, angering residents and robbing neighborhoods of shaded stretches and community canopies. And while the County said it will replant new trees with shorter roots, these dwarf trees will not grow nearly as tall as their predecessors — gone will be that boulevard feel, with tall trees guarding against traffic noise and the concrete malaise of commercial districts.
Our infrastruture needs fixing, but why not spot-treat the truly problematic spots rather than lose trees that have stood tall for generations?
At the very least, the County should have worked to inform the public rather than blindside it with a chainsaw.