Opinion

My name is Michael Bonavitacola and I am a certified arborist. I have also been a resident of Port Washington for over 40 years, as well as a co-owner of a landscaping company located in Port Washington. I am writing this letter in regard to the removal of six pin oaks (Quercus palustris) on Main Street in front of Austin F. Knowles Funeral Home.

As a resident and of Port Washington I was shocked and saddened to see the removal of some of the most beautiful street trees on Main Street recently. As a certified arborist I know, that while these trees had uplifted the adjacent sidewalk, removal of the trees was not needed.

While pin oaks may not have been the ideal street tree for the location, the trees' overall condition, absence of overhead wires under a majority of the trees, and no visible signs that trees were under any undue stress, warranted additional consideration before their removal in the repair of the sidewalk. Having known the trees well and examining the stumps (the youngest of which being over 35 years old), I felt the trees were in excellent shape and did not have to be removed due to sickness or immediate safety concerns. The trees were structurally sound and exhibited consistent and strong growth, as seen through their annual growth rings.

The removal of these trees did make the sidewalk repair easier, but in no means was it mutually exclusive to the repair of the sidewalk. Slightly larger cutouts, elevating the sidewalk, and selective root pruning would have allowed these beautiful trees to have remained on Main Street while allowing for the repair of the uplifted sidewalk, alleviating the safety concern of the uneven sidewalk. While extra time and care would have been needed, in no means was it impossible.

It is a shame to see such beautiful trees missing from our town and the narrow-sightedness of our town in regard to the trees that help beautify and set our town apart. In addition, the newly planted pear trees were already showing signs of stress from lack of water and sadly will never come close to providing the same look to Main Street as were provided by those six pin oaks.

I hope in future repairs, more thought, attention, and concern will be paid to the preservation of our street trees and a travesty of losing additional large, healthy trees can be avoided.

Michael Bonavitacola


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