Friday, November 12, 2010

11th Street condo owners want to chop down this willow tree




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.

37 comments:

rob said...

The willows are distinctive here. When I was kid I never saw willows in the city -- they were a lazy, sultry, delicate tree for lazy sultry delicate places. Can't imagine a willow in midtown. They were my favorite tree, soft and gentle and so different from all upright, erect, rigid normal deciduous trees, but dipping their languid leaves in lakes or dragging them along streams and currents, like some antique gossamer gown drawn from an old chest that only a fanciful hippie would wear in public, too impractical for the modern speed of suits and short, tight skirts. Seemed like a southern tree, a country tree, a comfort tree.

I can still see the top of this willow from my bedroom window, its loopy head and flaxen tresses now turning blonde in autumn, swaying in the breeze in the morning sun. It's kind of a wonder to me that these willows live here. It coaxes me to purple prose.

Melanie said...

@Rob--lovely ode to the willow trees. They are beautiful and should not be cut down.

Anonymous said...

Not just "older neighbors" want to preserve the tree; "newcomers" like me, newer to the block than even the 613-617 condo owners, don't want to see this tree destroyed. (And some of the 613-617owners object as well, but they were outvoted.) We live next door to it at 619, and that tree's beautiful branches grace our yard. It's home to cardinals and robins, and in spring and fall I've seen migrants like Yellow Warblers and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak among its leaves. If there's a to save this tree, we should do it; it's the leafiness of the East Village that gives the neighborhood much of its character. --Chris Cooper

Gray A. said...

I love trees and hate seeing any cut, but this tree looks to me like it has not been maintained properly and grown too large for the space. Maybe it's just the angle of the photo? I'd like to hear what a tree expert has to say. If the tree is healthy, preserve it. If it's not healthy, cut it down and replace it with a new tree.

EV Grieve said...

A few asked how they could do something to help preserve the tree....

Anyone concerned about the future of the tree should send a note to
"Willow Tree"
expressing support for preserving the willow. wtwillow15 will send them on to the condo owners and the board president.

--------m said...

until about 10-15 years ago there was a very large willow tree in a small space behind a short building on broome st.- sw corner of elizabeth st. must have been there for many decades and have seen much history. it surprised and pleased all who happened upon it's presence. it was a tree, as rob has said, lazy, sultry and delicate - it made the harsh city corner something special. then one day it was gone - victim of an encroaching fenced area and someone's need for a storage space. the corner is now a very cold, indifferent place. very, very sad.

Dan LD said...

These people have this beautiful tree right in their backyard, and they're just going to cut it down. I guess they don't deserve something so nice in the first place, then.

I'm not one to harp on gentrification. But if these people don't appreciate such things that give the neighborhood its character, especially when every block seems to be getting a bank and a fro yo place, they should probably live in midtown. No willow trees there.

glamma said...

way to go morons

Anonymous said...

assholes

Anonymous said...

I personally endorsed and arranged for the pruning and cabling of the tree for 8 years by experts and the tree by their opinion is healthty with at least 40 more years of life. Being outvoted for its remaining the tree needs as much attention as you can give it otherwise chop chop buzz buzz oh what a beautiful tree it was.

Anonymous said...

I recently became aware of the East Village willow trees upon meeting and visiting a new friend who was instrumental in creating two of the community gardens on 4th street. They truly are impressive and a wonderful sight in this jungle of concrete. It made me want to check out for the day and pretend I was Alice in Wonderland.

LiberationNYC said...

People SUUUCK!

I pass these trees when I go to eat at Cafe Cotto on Avenue C and I always thing how remarkable and peaceful they are. Leave it to some a-hole to find even a TREE a nuisance.

Anonymous said...

Just as a point of information, those condos were built as middle-income family housing with generous tax breaks for the builder, and at below market prices for the buyers, who, after a certain number of years, are now allowed to sell them at market rate. They got the ability to buy them through a lottery system about 15 years ago.

Bowery Boogie said...

someone just wants a nice patio instead of a hint of greenery...

Anonymous said...

Notwithstanding 10 AM Anonymous's comment, I am going to rant about these condo people for a brief moment: you suck. What was the point of you spending all the money you spent on your condo (or overspent, more likely) if you don't give a shit about the surrounding neighborhood? Why not buy a cheaper condo someplace else then, maybe in some crap suburb, and leave the East Village as it is? Co-op people, this goes for you too. My building is partially co-op and the co-op people are, for the most part, exactly the sort of assholes who would cut down a tree just so they don't have to pay for its care. They do similar things with building maintenance because we are not lucky enough to have a beautiful willow tree for them to ruin. Meanwhile they breed like rabbits, and have no problem whatsoever spending $800 or whatever on a stroller. Just like they had no problem whatsoever buying at the top of the market. Idiots.

Anonymous said...

Chris Cooper left a comment here? THE Chris Cooper? Big fan; you were fantastic in "Breach".

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when people from outside of the neighborhood come in and take over what we've in the community have spent a life time developing.

Anonymous said...

Both my children go to school at the EVCS which overlooks the property. We worked very hard to create a garden on the roof terrace, called the Tree of all Knowing around this beautiful tree. Local artists have donated their time to create beautiful murals and sculptures dedicated to this tree. A tree was planted in memory of one of the students here. I cannot, and nor can the other parents, understand why these people would just cut down the tree. Does anyone know who lives in the condo where the tree grows? We would like to talk to those people. Maybe they have children and will understand what it means to us.

Rmom said...

I am not an old timer in this neighbourhood, but definitely love that willow tree and will support any effort to keep that alive; that's the tree I walked by pushing my newborn in the stroller (some of the posters here will call me an idiot just because of this..stroller pushing mom = yuppie moron scum for them), that's the tree my kid went to sketch for his science project, and that's the tree my 90 years old neighbour takes a rest at during her daily walk.

Why do people in that condo think they need to chop that tree down? Why now? Recent surge of hipsters made them think they deserve to live in more Williamsburg looking environment? Does it make them feel raw, unsophisticated "Loisaida"? If they are afraid of a possible lawsuit from that tree branch falling, I'm sure the school is willing to talk it over and to come up with a plan. Kids love that tree, it is in many of the artworks of kids from neighbouring schools.

Anonymous said...

the tree IS beautiful. i love wildlife and nature. it would be sad to see it go, and not see the alley cats climbing its branches any more. from what i've heard, the tree isn't a nuisance and that's why they want it cut down. somebody told me that they don't have the money to pay for a life if it falls on the kids in the school or something like that. and i agree, i mean, i think it could be dangerous and nobody can predict if it could or couldn't. so technically it's not really about how beautiful the tree is. it's in one particular backyard, so technically they could cut it down any time they really wanted to. the building just took it on because it would e expensive. there's no price on a life, though. this might not get posted because it presents both sides of the story and moderation is enabled, but i just wanted to say it.
i really do think the tree is beautiful, wonderful, and amazing. i've grown up with it here.

pgurl said...

i wish they wouldn't cut down the damn tree. i can understand why it's expensive to upkeep, and that it would be expensive if anybody got hurt from a storm knocking over a big chunk of it. and yeah, not a lot of people who live in 613-617 are rich or cold-hearted. and the people who live in the apartment that actually contains the tree - to respond to an earlier post - they do have children haha. i don't understand how this got turned into a big situation, theyve been discussing the tree for years. but i'm glad that it's getting attention now. maria deserves it <3

Anonymous said...

I live in the apartment building next to the lot that holds the tree. I've watched it shoot up. Based upon the buildings that surround it, it's probably one of the most protected trees from wind sheer around. Sure there is a slight possiblity that the school would allow the children to play outside under the tree during a tornado alert and someone could get hurt. Get real condo owners! Maybe we should just mow down Central Park too. Even the City doesn't stop the Macy's Day Parade after all the accidents with wind and light poles. Sounds like a coverup to me. Gerald Shelby

JK said...

Our garden is the big one on E. 5th/E. 4th Street between Aves C/D (El Jardin del Paraiso); we dearly treasure our willow tree near 4th St. She wears an Elizabethan collar (a tree nest for kids). We take good care of her and our kids are safe and happy.

She's in her 30's and has a lot of life left in her. If you want some contact info about good tree care, let me know (jkthecat@gmail.com)

By the way, I lived in this neighborhood in the 60's and 70's before there were gardens and am so grateful for all the green that has rooted here. May all our lovely willows live out their natural life spans.

Anonymous said...

I am in full support of protecting this tree and others like it in the neighbourhood. - josh lucas

Anonymous said...

We all hear everyone talking and talking about the Willow Tree and although the tree is located in a private area, and not a public area. I live in the building next to 613-617 and I can see it from my window.

Everyone is saying “let’s save the tree and help with the upkeep” but everyone has to stop and think, is it really going to be everyone’s problem? I don’t think so. Let’s take a moment and imagine one of those branches fall down on someone in their yard who do you think is going to be liable? Is it going to be you? Me? Everyone on East 11th St? No it’s only going to be the owners of 613-617 E 11th St Condo.

Now stop and think - how many of us even have access to that tree? How many can even say “Hey! This is a beautiful tree, let me sit down in its shade and relax for a minute”? None of us can do that only the owners and the buildings next door have access to its benefits even though the roots of the tree is located in the backyard of the 613-617 Condos.

It’s a beautiful tree but it has reached its years and it’s time for a new history.

Anonymous said...

I believe I spoke to you when you were walking your dog the other day. You live in the condo in one of the units on the lower level. You are absolutely not the only one that sees this tree. Have you seen the comments from the school? Have you read the articles online? Have you read the letters from the children? There is always liability in life...every time you step out the door, but you don't stop living or try to stop others from appreciating the living....tree. Please have a heart and reconsider. We all have to live here together for a very very long time. Nikia Jones, an East 11th Street lifer (across the block I can even see it).

Anonymous said...

Two words - liability (like being by lightning), insurance (every condo has it). Any questions?

Anonymous said...

Three words: Not so fast! Liability would be an issue only if the tree were noticeably dead or decayed so as to pose an imminent risk. The tree being large does not mean it constitutes an imminent risk. Case in point: Tompkins Square Park, which isn't exactly home to bonsai plants. Besides, considering the height of the surrounding buildings, the willow appears too short to be a lightning rod.

Anonymous said...

Willows grow where there is enough ground water. Usually close to a lake, a pond, an obvious source of water. The neighborhood of loisada is unusual in it's ability to support willows.
A wonderous willow lives on 9th @ the corner of C... torn apart in a high wind storm (climate change!) yet endures...with the help of caring tenders.
There are many in the loisada who would help with the 11th St tree.
Organization is always confusing and difficult. W/perseverance the owners of the property on 11th St.
will realize a solution, saving the tree and fostering community.

The neighborhood has an excellent history realizing the fruits of working together. Is that changing?

Willows are messy. The fronds, the willow whips, fall continually and in the fall, it's time consuming to clean up after the effort to reproduce.
The 11th St tree is spindly, and it is of concern that the tree is cabled to maintain it's posture.

However, Maria, who determined the trees must stay if she were to go, will be devastated at the lose of the tree.
Maria is still in the neighborhood ~ has anyone informed her of what is possibly going to happen? She MUST be told.
Maria kept the area of her building tidy, creating a magnificent garden in the lot which now houses the del este verde (sp?) housing. Yes, Maria was a pre-squatter, maintaining a five story building for herself and her son, and finally only herself. It's unclear to me, tho I think Maria is a lone survivor of the ukranian community surrounding her. Ahe's lost many many friends who she was connected to.
The willow is her progeny. Yes, the willow was fostered by Maria, and she did the necessary maintenance.
Remember Eddies' tower @6th and B?
Parallel here. though obviously a willow grows toward the sun, while Eddies' tower just grew! : )
Everyone had their opinions about the object that the tower was. And it was destroyed on liability of danger to unsuspecting pedestrians.
A Willow tree is not an object. Any manifestation of harm to anyone resulting from anything that the willow should be involved in would be considered an act of G-d.
Stop worrying about liability.
organize a crew to go for it and keep the lovely creature a homie and a tidy homie.
The tree will live far longer than any of us who strive to keep obvious disregard for the culture of loisada.
So many words....so little time.
anon.

Anonymous said...

LOL!
my original comment was too long. how rude of the censor. I am not wordy.
Upshot:
organize a crew to keep the willow tidy, well kept. She deserves it. Maria was good to her. Maria must be told of the intentions for the tree.
It is cruel if she doesn't know now.
Liability ~ I am not a tree lawyer, yet any resulting injury or damage as a result of the tree coming apart, if as written, it is properly cabled and maintained...would be considered an act of g-d.
Love that tree. The east village can support a willow, and here a few around, due to the ground water...rare in the city.
Love her, she needs love.

Anonymous said...

you know every is talking so what we should do is everyone who is concern about the daman willow tree is going to make a budget from their f....ing pockets to maintained the tree and should anybody get hurt because of that tree the person(s) is going to sue the E. 11th resident and not the owners of 613-617 E. 11th Del Este Condo IV. now if no one wants to put up money for the tree than but out of our business because the is a privet matter and not a public one SO BUT OUT!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Obviously this person didn't attend the community meeting this week, because the president of the condo said that it was not about money or upkeep and even if it was the school and others volunteered to fund and particiapte in the clean up. Telling your neighbors to "butt out" is precisely why you need to understand that we all live in this world and it is not yours alone to do as you wish. Nikia Jones

Anonymous said...

First off, we're not "newcomers". I myself have lived in this neighborhood for my entire life, and in this building for eleven years. But thanks for making assumptions. It may not be our world alone, but what all of you people dont realize, is that we're not all bad guys, it's unfair to lump us all together and call us assholes and morons. You guys dont attend meetings, you dont know the thoughts behind the removal of the tree. It's dangerous so close to the condo, during storms the way the tree sways is frightening. We've had large branches fall of and hit people on the head. It'd be wonderful if people were to hold off on making ignorant comments making us look like horrible people who choose to cut down a beautiful work of nature for greedy reasons when we have children living in this building who are potentially put at risk. I'm not saying that I'm for the removal of the tree (which is another thing that everyone who's stopped to comment here has failed to realize, we're not all holding chainsaws waiting for the "ok"- some of us aren't sure that we really want to go that far), but I'm saying that there's also a silver lining- I know that I personally would opt for replacing the tree with another, sturdier, smaller tree. I know that the willow is part of the history of this place, but frankly, as a person who's gotten hit on the head by a few branches, I think it's less of your business and more of ours. Considering we're the ones who have to live with it, I feel like it's our responsibility to make that decision for the right reasons & considering that the majority of people commenting here DON'T have to live with it, it's not fair for you to badmouth us and make comments like this.

Anonymous said...

It looks like they're taking the willow down right now.

Matt Dart said...

At the Supercheap storage, we also had one huge tree at the back of the property. When we first took over the area, at first we thought of removing it. Good thing we didn’t since right now, it has provided us some shade and a place to have a quick getaway from the office.

Matt Dart said...

I helped my brother-in-law renovate and remodel his tiny shed into a children’s playpen. I love the idea that he has made it so comfortable and with a lot of storage space for their toys. Now, the children would spend most of their time in the shed, and leave some peace to the adults of the house in the main area.

Anonymous said...

The tree is beautiful and irreplaceable. Keep it.

- East Villager