In the August 1913 issue of “Poetry: A Magazine of Verse,” Joyce Kilmer’s poem “Trees” was published. He was born in New Jersey and one of his grandsons, Hugh Kilmer, lived on Bloomfield Street for many years. The poem notes how lovely trees are and that only God can make a tree. I do know that humans can sure kill trees, but since nature’s hail, ice storms, ferocious winds, extreme heat, flooding, diseases, and insects do the job anyway, we don’t need to contribute to their deaths.
Initially the Washington Redesign Project had 22 trees on Washington Street marked for removal on plans given to each City Council member. Three trees had already been removed. This summer, one in front of Walgreens and two in front of Arthur’s Restaurant were also taken out because their roots were interfering with the placement of tanks being put underground and the curb extensions which require the realignment of the catch basins. These three healthy trees were planted as part of a city program to replace dead trees. Many of those trees planted by the city did not survive.
Of the 16 remaining trees with a death sentence, eight are some of the largest and loveliest trees on Washington Street. I am hoping that T & M, the firm who is overseeing the Washington Street project, will figure out a way to go around the trees’ roots so that they might be saved. Then again, with all the concrete and tanks surrounding these large trees, there is no guarantee that they will not die anyway because of what is being done underground near their roots.
I have read in SmartCitiesDIVE’s article, “Why We Need Trees In Our Cities,” that “Trees improve the livability of our cities for countless reasons. However, for many years tree canopy in our urban areas has been decreasing. Large mature trees which reach the end of their lives are often replaced with smaller species – if at all. These replanted trees then struggle to establish and reach maturity due to the demands of paved surrounds around them.”
Many trees planted in Hoboken never survive because they are not cared for and the urban landscape is a difficult environment anyway. The city takes very little care of its trees. How many have dead branches and how many are pruned correctly? How many are watered when they are increasingly being surrounded by more and more concrete? The city says it will plant 50 new trees through the Washington Street project but they will be removing some very healthy large trees that will take 30 years to replicate in size, if they survive. Trees die naturally through nature’s wrath or man’s carelessness. Let us not destroy trees that are hardy and stand proud and tall, offering calm, shade, and beauty in the urban landscape. Let us not sacrifice existing green for projected ‘green’ when refashioning our Washington Street. It takes decades for trees to offer shade. Trees deserve our respect.