145 Hicks Board Meets Tonight

IMG_0544.jpgThe 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.

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  • Perplexed

    Who says this is an open meeting? My information from a building resident is that it is a shareholders meeting. So whoever said it’s an “open” meeting needs to check their facts.

  • residenté

    This meeting is private and not OPEN. It is a shareholder’s meeting and the public is NOT INVITED. This issue needs to be addressed by the residents of the building, as it is a complex matter with many issues not relevant to public discussion. Please respect the privacy of the residents of Mansion House. THIS IS NOT AN OPEN MEETING. It if for SHAREHOLDERS ONLY.

  • pam

    The tree is on private property, of ocurse it should be a private meeting involving the stakeholders.
    Whatever costs or liability is invovlved in keeping the tree, it is shared by these folks. The board should take a vote and go with the majority opinion. If at some point the tree keels over and bashes someone car, or worse, someone’s head, then everyone in the co-op will share responsibility.
    The tree is lovely but it is rather hemmed in by the courtyard.
    it is the right tree in the wrong place.

  • Bender

    Please also consider changing the name of the building to the Charles Mansion House.

  • anonn

    Just the fact that there is a “shareholders” meeting, shows enough shareholders dont agree with the Board to warrant a meeting, or at least are openly questioning the board..on a side note, why are there only 7 people on the board? just curious…

  • residenté

    As a resident of 145 Hicks for the past twelve years, I would like to note thatit is a beautiful building with friendly people and has been well run over the years. The elm tree issue is a very difficult one, but it appears that now it is being addressed openly and constructively and hopefully will be resolved in a manner which exemplifies the best kind of cooperative decision-making.

  • pam

    I do not know of any co-ops with more than seven people on their board of directors. it’s just a co-op board, not Congress.
    And it has been my experience from serving on a similar boards that 99% of the shareholders think the building just runs itself, nothing could be further from the truth, there are dozens of important decisions facing boards all the time. No one notices until something like this comes up. It is a thankless task.

  • LR

    This a great building with an overwhelming sense of comraderie among residents. This decision is difficult for everyone. Leave it to be decided by the folks who live here.