On Wednesday (5/27) Michael's Signs of West New York installed a sign at 11 a.m. on the corner of Palisade and Second Street. It displayed the layout of the artificial field termed "an improvement" in Washington Park. A man waiting for the 123 NJ Transit bus into NYC was shocked to learn that the stately, mostly healthy, vibrant rows of 80-plus-years old trees will be chain-sawed and laid waste so that not even their finger-like roots will remain. At least 39 will cease to exist and should the trees that line Patterson Plank Road and Second Street nearest the park be cut down that number will rise to 53.
As I walked my dog, I came across a young couple, one who was on the verge of tears as she looked at the layout then the row of sycamores shading the lawn. The man with her said he had spoken to Union City Mayor Stack opposing the mass wipe-out of these trees but the mayor said he loved trees and pontificated that the new field will be beautiful. This couple had even signed a community petition asking the mayor to spare the trees but Mayor Stack remained unmoved. He had both the support and agreement of the Washington Park Association on this. The woman confessed to me that she felt she as a citizen had no power. I disagreed and reminded her that she cared enough for the trees to take political action by signing a petition. While others react with helplessness, apathy, cynicism that "you can't fight City Hall" she resisted those impulses in hopes that her voice would be heard. Her affirmative choice was empowering.
A pebble dropped in a pond sends out waves and her action was like that pebble. Finally I empathized with her desire to weep for the destruction of each and one of those Mother Nature trees for their obliteration will be total: the most sweeping, most massive of its kind under the Stack administration. With one executive stroke of his pen he executively doomed and sealed the fate of those trees forever.
On a philosophical and ecological note, in the end, Mother Nature is more powerful than any individual, even a politician. Take away all the algae, all the trees, all the microorganisms that give us life and how much power will it take to stop our suffocating lungs as we grasp for breath? Photosynthesis, the gift of keeps on giving.
These Washington Park trees have been our neighborhood's Trees of Life and now they will be taken from us. You, young woman, did not lose, they did. I, too, weep for their loss but I rejoice that others cared enough to try to preserve a vernal parcel of Eden. You have my undying gratitude. You, and the others who stood on the side of Mother Nature, are like the force of rain drops that fill an ocean. One act when joined by others leads to a chain reaction of change. Let me break free of my usual stoic posture, to thank my precious and beloved wife, Judy Stone, my Lioness of a Woman, for her sacrifice and bravery as she and the Union City Neighborhood Association tried to save the Washington Park trees in Union City. Likewise to all those citizens in Union City and Jersey City who told of their love of these wonders of nature, thank you! Ghandi said we must be the change before we can change others. Change comes slowly but it's irrevocably transformative.
One who stands in awe of Mother Nature,