Friday, November 12, 2010
A group of condo owners at 613-617 E. 11th St. between Avenue B and Avenue C are discussing removing a 60-foot tall willow tree in their backyard because, according to residents, they don't want to pay for pruning it. It has been claimed that the underlying reason may be simply that they don't want to clean up the tree's leaves.
Older neighbors want to preserve it. There are also a lot of community gardeners on the block.
This tree has an interesting history. It belongs to a willow tree seeding effort throughout Loisaida in the early gardening movement. You can see many of the remaining willows in gardens along Avenue C ... and on the streets between Avenue B and Avenue C. (For example, there is a nice one on Eighth Street near Avenue C ... and several in the La Plaza Cultural de Armando Perez garden on Avenue C and Ninth Street.)
This particular tree was cared for by a long-time Ukrainian woman who lived for about 50 years as the sole occupant of an abandoned five-story tenement — long before the squatter movement — without electricity, water or heat.
Maria agreed to vacate her building and move to another nearby apartment in the late 1990s. She left on the condition that her two willows not be destroyed. In the process of construction around 2000, workers sawed down one of the trees. A local gardener prevented the remaining willow with his body. That tree is now being threatened again.
It's a story of newcomers with little history destroying local history for their convenience and comfort. And for their backyard amenities, which, of course, are a staple of urban living, as distinct from suburban style.
One concerned resident said that the condo board president will re-evaluate the decision to have the tree removed. According to the resident, the condo owners want to prevent any possible risk of the tree falling. The playground for P.S. 61 is in the space adjacent to 613-617.