The controversy surrounding the removal of the huge century old American elm tree at 145 Hicks Street continues with the Brooklyn Paper shedding some light on the coop board's decision:
It’s the latest salvo in an ongoing battle that appeared to reach its climax on July 18, when the co-op board at Mansion House, at 145 Hicks St., voted 5–2 (in private) to cut down the tree rather than spend $8,000 to reroute electrical pipes that were caught in the path of the tree’s extensive root system.
On Monday, the board will hold an open meeting to discuss its ruling, and residents expect it to get ugly. One shareholder said five or six residents have already agreed to chain themselves to the tree to prevent its removal. “I’m not sure [the board would] like to see that,” the shareholder said. “Especially when the New York Times … shows up.”
The coop board (only 7 people in a building that large… are we missing something?) seems to be very direct in its desire to save some money by choosing to cut down the tree rather than reroute electric pipes. However, the B'Paper reports that the cost of the building's current renovations are running off the rails of the Crazy Train going from a proposed $150k to recent estimates of $400k. So this is really a budgetary CYA maneuver on the part of the 145 Hicks board. The $8k to save the tree is literally the last straw in a bigger financial calamity.
While there seems to be very strong opposition to the tree chopping within the coop itself, it's clear that Brooklyn Heights residents at large feel that this elm is part of our neighborhood's overall character. And in a landmark district, shouldn't it be necessary for decisions like this to be vetted via Landmarks?
And therein lies the point — is this any of our business? Is this a private matter between a coop, its board and nature? 145 Hicks coop board member/tree choppin' supporter Phyllis Dicker thinks so, telling the paper that this is “a private matter between the board members and the shareholders.”
What do you think?