It has come to my attention, or should I say, realization that most of the trees on my street will be removed to make room for a more “efficient” species.
I live on 2nd Avenue in Atlantic Highlands. For some time I’ve heard that the town was planning to repave the street and replace the sidewalks. This is a good thing, I thought. What I didn’t know until last night (for certain) was that all but three of the 20 trees on my one small block will be removed to do so. Why I asked? Did an arborist say that they were unhealthy or a danger? I do understand that some of them needed to be removed for that reason. However, I had no idea of the severity of this plan. Some of the trees are historical to the town. The majority of them provide great shade and ambiance to our quaint little street and town. Not to mention the environmental benefit they provide and the fact that they help reduce the extremely ugly view of the electrical wires.
How could this be? How is it that something of that magnitude and that would have that much impact not be public knowledge? Sure, there were council meetings to discuss the road work plans but I don’t ever recall any official confirmation to the rumors that most of the trees would be taken down. I’ve lived in the town for many years now and don’t recall this happening to any other street. In fairness, there is a plan to replace the trees with a more ornamental variety. But these certainly will not have the grandeur or benefits that many of the existing trees have. Why are we so quick to remove rather than maintain? Is there a cost benefit to removing a tree rather that applying the proper pruning or upkeep? I don’t believe so. Just because something is “old” doesn’t make it bad, does it?
Please don’t misinterpret this letter, as my intent in not to criticize the committed citizens of Atlantic Highlands. Many of whom give up their personal time toward the betterment of our town. In fairness to the Atlantic Highlands Shade Tree Commission, I have to say, I have no idea how they do what their able to do with the small budget they receive. Having served on this committee in the past I know how committed and caring these volunteers are toward the replanting and upkeep of the town’s trees. Nor, am I trying to criticize the time and planning that the Borough put into this street plan. But, until last night, when I spoke out during the Shade Tree meeting of my concerns, I don’t believe that anyone realized the full impact this was going to have on the residents of 2nd Avenue. But it’s more than just this one tiny block that will be impacted. They’re planning the same for 6th Avenue, and how many more after that?
My hope is that the town will come up with a better plan than just taking out all of the old and putting in the new. After all, part of the allure of our town is its age and the aestetics that the trees, historical homes and buildings provide. I keep hearing about the potential danger that many of the street trees present. If that’s the case, I would think that the maintenance of the trees would be a priority, not an after thought. Perhaps we can look at spending less on some other amenities and use that money towards a more aggressive tree maintenance program.
I plan on going to the town council meeting tonight at 7:00 p.m. to express my concerns. I’m sure that not everyone will be in agreement. Some will say that the danger outweighs the environmental or aesthetic benefit that the street trees provide. Everyone has the right to their opinion. If they agree, I hope that many of my neighbors will also come, not only the citizens of 2nd and 6th, but anyone who is concerned about the future of our street trees.
"Unless someone like you...cares a whole awful lot...nothing is going to get better...It's not." “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss
Atlantic Highlands, NJ