November 30, 2021

Dying trees removed

City to replace several dying trees on Church Street

Jacob DeRochie/contributing photographer

Crew members from Lewis Tree Service Inc. work to remove pine trees in failing health within the median along Church Street Wednesday. Once removed, new trees will take their place.

Driving down Church Street, people will notice a line of tree stumps poking up through the grass along the median in the road.

Until Wednesday, pine trees stood where the stumps are.

Kathie Wilcox woke up Wednesday morning to people outside her home on Church Street.

“They were cutting down trees in front of my house,” she said.

Wilcox has lived on South Church Street for around 36 years; the trees have been there just as long if not longer.

The trees were in failing health and following a recommendation from the city of Cortland’s Landscape and Design Committee, it was decided to remove them, said Nic Dovi, deputy superintendent of Cortland Public Works.

“We started last year on the north end,” Dovi said about the project on south Church Street.

The trees in question were the large pines lining the road’s medians.

Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin said in the interest of the trees’ life cycle and safety to residents in the area the trees had to be removed.

On Wednesday morning, crews from Lewis Tree Service Inc. of West Henrietta, Monroe County were working on the street.

By 9 a.m. a large pile of branches lay on the ground as crew members began cutting more branches and placed them into a wood chipper.

Around five or six trees were removed last year on the north end of the street, Dovi said. This year, while working with power company National Grid, the rest will be removed.

“The intention will be to replace them,” Tobin said.

With the aid of grant funding, the trees will be replaced, Dovi said. In the coming weeks new concolor fir trees will be planted. “Fifteen trees,” Dovi said.

For Wilcox, it wasn’t the thought of losing the trees that bothered her. There was no notice of the work given, no meeting, she said. “It definitely changes the whole character of the street,” she said.

Last May, the city Landscape and Design committee planted 65 trees, free to rental property owners, city residents and businesses, with the first of a two-year $23,490 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation Urban and Community Forestry Program.

The commission took requests from the public for the free trees and sought out property owners along Huntington, Pendleton and Squires street areas in either flood zones or brown fields, areas the DEC placed an emphasis on. Trees help absorb water and clean the air.

It was around that time people also started noticing the failing health of the pines on the south end of Church Street.

The city also offers an annual tree planting program. Tobin said city residents and property owners interested in the program can contact Thoma Development Consultants for more details.