What’s one more tree, when they’re already gone?
Sounds like a song lyric from: They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. But we haven’t built the parking lot yet, however one more tree is gone from Rotary Park.
Werner Tedesco, posted a photo to the Cool Cape May Facebook group last month. On June 16th a raw tree stump, from a seemingly healthy, freshly fallen tree was all that remained. Earlier that day a tree contractor was trimming dead wood from the tops of the remaining Sycamore trees in Rotary Park.
I reached out to the head of the City’s Shade Tree Commission, Jay Schatz. He was aware. “The contractor told me he was hired to trim dead wood from the tops of the Sycamore tree, he told me nothing about taking down any trees,” said Jay.
Phone calls to two other Shade Tree Commission members produced similar results. The Shade Tree Commission was not consulted in taking down the tree in Rotary Park.
According to Shatz, if a private homeowner takes down a tree more than eight inches in diameter, in can result in a $10,000.00 fine. “We take them to municipal court,” Schatz said.
Rewind two years when Rotary Park was getting overhauled, funded in part by the Fund For Cape May a non-profit organization. The city dulled the Shade Tree Commission saw blade under the previous administration, headed by Mayor Mahaney during that process.
Rotary Park was in dire need of renovating. The public/private partnership was an effective way to accomplish the job. When it was determined how many trees needed culling, the Shad Tree Commission had to have their objections muted.
One More Tree
Without explanation or permission from city officials, Shade Tree or City Council, the contractor took down a tree in the very center of the park. A tree for photographers like Werner Tedesco and myself, framed the park in many photographs.
Leadership of the Fund for Cape May were unavailable for comment. Curtis Bashaw, president and founder of the Fund for Cape May was out of the country at the time of the tree trimming.
People were incensed that one more tree was taken down for no apparent reason. Only speculation could offer reasons. With a background as an event planner, I could speculate removing one more tree created more open event space. Was it to create a more open view of the bandstand?
In meetings with city officials this week, Fund For Cape May officials said the tree cutting was “accidental.” In other words it was the contractors fault. It was unclear if any action would be taken against the contractor.
In 2016 Mayor Mahaney said many of the park’s trees were diseased. Two years later it is understandable the park would need maintenance. We got over the shock of the original renovation and most of us have come to love the park. What’s one more tree, when they’re already gone?