Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday Meeting a Success!

The meeting between the village and Con Ed took place at 10am this morning along S. Broadway near the large Sycamores edging the Columbia Nevis property. Over 50 local residents showed up to voice concerns and support the notion or protecting our tree heritage. A big THANK YOU goes out to all of you!

Concerned residents spoke about their experiences - from receiving no notification of tree removal and/or pruning to being treated rudely by line clearing crews when inquiring as to what was happening and what their rights as property owners might be. No one seemed to know what recourse they might have, nor who to contact (at Con Ed) in the case of issues which arise. And there were many issues that surfaced from all over the village. The large crowd sent a loud and clear message both to Con Ed and village officials: the wholesale pruning of trees in the village without concern for aesthetic and environmental impacts will not be tolerated.

Con Ed countered that they had in fact notified folks (including the village for village street trees) in regards to planned tree removals. Officially, they are supposed to have home owner consent for each tree. However, pruning is another matter. No advanced notification or approval is required by law. In certain cases, Con Ed's consulting arborist has noted trees for which he wants to be on-site during pruning. But these specially handled specimen trees are few in number.

On any shift, the line clearing crews go out in teams, two trucks and four workers. One of them is a General Forman for the crew, acting as a local supervisor. However, the General Forman is typically not a trained and certified arborist. Visits to crew work sites by a supervising arborist are infrequent at best. Thus, there is no real quality control in place by which to detect if crews are performing badly.

As a home owner, it will be up to you to either personally monitor work being performed OR contract for an arborist to be onsite during the work. There will be "emergency incident" contact information posted very soon on the Village website. Additionally, a schedule of pruning sites (streets / areas) will also be posted, as provided by Con Ed.

Specifically regarding the Sycamores along S. Broadway, as these are public street trees under management by the village, the village can take a more proactive approach. The village will have it's contracted consulting arborist monitoring pruning of these trees.

Representatives of the village, including the Mayor and myself as Tree Commission Chairperson, "walked the line" with Con Ed's representatives examining each tree in detail. Overall, there is limited pruning of dead wood and suckers, a few smaller branches here and there that are in danger to shorting across the Primary lines. The senior Con Ed arborist was very helpful and shared our concern that the minimum pruning be undertaken to these trees.

Likewise, the village will also monitor pruning of street trees in important or high impact areas. (Such areas will be designated over the next week.)

While there is not a perfect resolution of the issues yet (ex: pruning of non-village trees is not being monitored), more is to come. Senior Con Ed management has been contacted about the problems in Irvington. Likewise, the office of Richard Brodsky has been contacted. Local media such as The Enterprise is now covering the story.

If you were there today on the street, please share your experience with your neighbors and friends. Tell people about this blog and let's keep the momentum going to solve the "Con Ed problem."

1 comment:

David said...

Though I live in Sleepy Hollow, I am concerned about the potential
loss or disfigurement of Irvington's historic trees, which have great
value to all the Rivertowns.

Quite simply, ConEd's policy is so broad that it potentially allows
doing surgery with an axe instead of a scalpel. Each tree should be
considered individually by a wide range of criteria and importantly,
ConEd must work in consultation with local governments. How else can
it be?

Detailed data about each individual tree should be recorded, including
photographs. Only very specific data can prove that (1) the program
is actually significantly decreasing the number of electricity service
disruptions and (2) isn't causing severe side-effects, such as
premature tree death, accelerated growth of invasive vines that will
themselves threaten power lines, or severe aesthetic disfigurement.

Fundamentally ConEd should work with local governments and consider
each tree individually, as part of a sophisticated policy that
achieves the goals of everyone involved. Good luck on Monday!