The Torrey Pine on Long Branch Avenue has been saved!
The tree was on the agenda of the OB Planning Board and tonight was the showdown between the City and tree proponents – or it was supposed to be.
But, in a dramatic reversal, the City has determined that the tree is healthy and stable, and DOES NOT NEED TO BE CUT DOWN.
Tree proponents and most members of the Board were elated with the City’s new position.
The City, represented by Hasan Yousef, publicly stated that the City will not cut the Torrey down, and that based on new evidence – mainly from the community-sponsored exam of the tree – it is stable and healthy.
The City also agreed to trim some upper foliage, to repair the sidewalk without damaging the roots, and to actually create a “pop-out” on the curb side of the tree. The tree will be monitored, he said, and an arborist would be on site during any pruning.
Yousef did say that if the tree appears to be an immediate hazard by beginning to fall or move drastically, the City would take immediate action and cut it down. But, Yousef added, no one expects this to happen anytime soon.
Yousef, the boss of earlier representatives from the City like Mary Wolford and Drew Potocki – who were not present at the public meeting – delivered the stunning announcement about the City’s turn-around at tonight’s monthly meeting. After finishing speaking, Yousef even drew applause from the audience.
Tree proponents did speak, but it was over. The drama was over, everyone was relieved. The battle to save the Torrey Pine at 4633 Long Branch had been won.
Many Board members declared that they were very pleased with the City’s decision, and these declarations went down the line – Seth Connolly, Barbara Schmidtknecht, Craig Klein, Vice-chair Landry Watson, Ronnie Shamoun, Jane Gawronski, and most others had smiles, like Chair Giovanni Ingolia.
In a brilliant move, Gawronski made a motion to memorialize what the City was promising that evening, to make it part of the Board’s record, the not cutting it down, repair of the sidewalk without hurting the roots, some pruning, and monitoring. This passed unanimously.
Several Board members publicly acknowledged the role that watchdog members of the community played in bringing the issue of the tree to the Board. Watson even went on to say that if the watchdogs hadn’t acted, somebody in the bureaucracy would have simply made a decision to cut down a healthy tree.
One of the key lessons of the evening and of this entire scenario that was played out over the last two months, was that the City was forced to deal with the Planning Board on an otherwise bureaucratic procedure – an action however that would have harmed the community by cutting down a perfectly good, protected tree. The City was brought to the forum that the Planning Board provides and represents, and made to prove something to the community before it went ahead with its original plans.
And importantly, the City bent to the pressures from the community. Yet, it took citizens hiring their own arborist to come down to the tree and do their own examinations and evaluations before the City was willing to listen to the villagers. But it did.
Richard Agee summed up the feelings from the evening: “When I walk down Saratoga Avenue and see all that the City has done to the sidewalks there (and saved the Torrey Pines), I feel real proud of my City for doing that.”
Tonight the Torrey Pine on Long Branch – a tree that has withstood the sands of time of some 80 years, that has withstood the wind and rain storms of this past month and over the decades – can rest a little easier. It has been spared an execution that some sought but most did not.
For in the end … The tree lives!