The coop board of 145 Hicks Street (Mansion House) will hold an open meeting tonight to share with residents its plan to cut down the 80 year old American elm tree in the building's courtyard. (Note: The meeting is not open to the public. It's an open board meeting for MH residents.)
The discourse over the board's vote last week to chop down the tree has been lively to say the least. Comments on BHB have exemplified the passion on both sides of the issue:
Andrea: First, we are extremely lucky to have an American Elm tree this old and this large still alive. There have been millions upon millions of American Elm trees cut down due to Dutch Elm Disease. So this tree has survived that and other circumstances that would effect this tree. Plus, trees give us so much in return from clean air, shade, creating a wonderful haven for wildlife, saving energy, keeping buildings cool and more.
Satterfield: …if these people have leaks in their basement and they are in the foundation – any home owner can tell you – that’s a big deal! And any idiot that tells you that you can waterproff from the inside is fooling himself. If they can’t cure the leaks because the tree is in the way, and the tree has moved electrical conduits – I think that there is a lot left unsaid here.
eak: Engineering studies completed for the Mansion House portico project indicate that the tree’s roots do not threaten the building. A landscape architect consulted on the matter notes that Elms do not have invasive water-seeking root systems, like red maples and other trees have, so it is not a threat to our foundation. Since the tree is so old and mature, any damage from it would have occurred by now.
member: The misinformation in this blog and the Brooklyn Paper is mindboggling. The board has spend the better part of this past year obtaining expert opinions on how to save the tree and waterproof the leaking foundation wall next to the tree. We have been told by several experts that waterproofing must be done from the outside. We have also been told by the tree experts that we cannot dig near the tree or its roots lest we risk damaging the tree. Therein lies the problem. We would happily reroute the electrical conduit it that would solve the problem, but it does not.
Resident: If it were just about saving a tree vs. movig a ConEd feed, I think it would be a 7-0 vote to save the tree. However, there are other issues. First of all, they can’t do the necessary waterproofing to stop a leak into the building due to the tree. But an even bigger issue is the continuing growth of the tree. As an engineer, I can tell you that the tree will continue to cause problems, eventually irreperably damaging the structural foundation of the building. Lastly there is a liability issue. With the direction in which the tree has grown and will continue to grow the large leaning branches WILL eventually break and hit something. Hopefully it would just be a car, but it could just as easily be a person and that’s a risk the board isn’t willing to take. As a resident of Mansion HOuse, although a relatively new resident, I’ll be sad to see the tree go, but I don’t think the board had a whole lot of choice.
We welcome comments from both sides of the issue, especially from Mansion House residents. If you are planning on attending the meeting tonight, please post any new developments here.