EFFORT UNDERWAY TO REVITALIZE PROSPECT AVENUE TREES
March 24, 2015 -- Anyone who has driven past Tappen Beach during the past week or so, has no doubt noticed the five tall stumps in the midst of the nearly 100 London Planes that line Prospect Avenue. The tree work is part of a larger strategy to restore to health the trees that have for many decades provided a magnificent shore-scape and entryway into the Village of Sea Cliff, said Village Administrator John Mirando.
The largest of the Prospect Aveue London Planes, which closely resemble sycamores, are estimated to be more than 80 years old, Sea Cliff Tree Committee member, and future Tree Commission Chair, Cecelia Wheeler told Northwordnews in a separate interview. The five being taken down died last year - possibly as a result of, among other issues, having excessive amounts of water at their roots, which showed evidence of rot. Perhaps the drainage holes in the seawall are set too high, trapping water at the roots of the trees after a heavy rain, Ms. Wheeler explained.
That problem, however, appears to be unique to that section of Prospect, and what ails the remaining trees to the south most likely has other causes. "They are challenged in every conceivable way!" Ms. Wheeler exclaimed. In fact, the soil further south is quite hard and if anything, lacking water, but when there is a storm they become covered with salt water. The trees may also be infected with anthracnose, a fungus that causes leaves to curl, and on top of that, weed wacker work has scarred the base of the trees, making them more susceptible to insects and disease.
But perhaps the biggest issue, Ms. Wheeler said, is that Pollarding, the pruning process that has been used on the trees for decades, has not been properly done over the years. In that process, the upper branches of a tree are removed to achieve a desired shape and for promoting the growth of a dense head of foliage and branches, with sprouts cut back each year.
"It is incredibly labor intensive," Ms. Wheeler said, and that because for decades the pruning was done inconsistently, the health of the trees has been negatively impacted. She said it is difficult to know for sure since no records have been kept either by the county, which is responsible for maintaining the road, or the Town which owns Tappen Beach. The overlaying governments and uncertainty about responsibility over the trees could be the root of that problem. (sorry)
The Village she said, through the original tree commission that was established in 2010, has begun to keep records of work done on the trees, and has now initiated the restoration project with the help of Hefferin Tree Service of Port Washington.
Mr. Mirando and Ms. Wheeler both explained that Pollarding would be abandoned in favor of another approach in which a single strong shoot coming off each cut point would be identified, and the weaker competition removed, allowing the survivor to grow into a strong branch. The thinning will also give the trees a little more breathing room. The work will be done before the trees are leaved as it will be easier to identify the desirable shoots, with trees to the north near Rum Point being done first, and moving southward over the next few years. "The branches will be a bit thinner this year," Ms. Wheeler said, "but it will be more attractive than when they were Pollarded."
Additionally, Mr. Mirando explained, the soil surrounding the roots of each of the trees will undergo a nitrogen treatment and be aerated to loosen up the soil.
As for the five trees that have been removed, young, fairly large London Planes, with trunks of four to five inches in diameter, will be planted to replace them this spring, if the right specimens can be found, or otherwise in the fall.
Ultimately, the goals of the project Ms. Wheeler and Mr. Mirando said, is to reverse the damage that pollarding has done, and to give us trees that will look more natural.
The new Tree Commission that was created as a result of the new Tree Law passed by the Village Board this past month, will play a significant role in advising on the project. In addition to Ms. Wheeler serving as the chair, the Commission is also made up of residents Russel Gorog, Renee Swanson and two alternates Carol Vogt and Ken Krumenacker.
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