red bank what's going on herered bank white street trees 052020
For the second time in 13 years, a stretch of White Street in Red Bank is temporarily treeless.

What’s Going On Here? Read on.

red bank white street trees 052020Borough resident James O’Brien said the trees should have been saved. Below, the aftermath of the 2007 tree clearing. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

As preliminary work for a planned streetscape makeover and parking lot reconfiguration, a subcontractor began removing trees Wednesday morning, borough Business Administrator Ziad Shehady confirmed.

Seventeen trees were removed, and they’ll be replaced by 17 others, consulting Engineer Laura Neumann, of CME Associates, told redbankgreen Wednesday.

The two-part project calls for the creation of angled parking spaces on the south side of White Street, abutting the parking lot. About 14 of the removed trees were Harvest Gold crabapples planted in sidewalk openings between the lot and street, effectively narrowing the path. They also shed fruit that created a slip-and-fall hazard, borough officials have said.

At a public information session on the project in February, Shehady said the new trees will be planted in landscaped “bumpouts” projecting into the road, Shehady said.

Wednesday’s clearing was reminiscent of a nearly identical scene in 2007, when nine mature Bradford pear trees in the same location were cut down by borough workers, “prompting some jaw-dropping by passersby,” as redbankgreen reported at the time.

The trees were growing into wires and liable to send limbs falling, tree experts said at the time.

This time, borough resident James O’Brien came upon the scene and was disturbed by what he saw.  He called the removals “a terrible decision,” and was critical of the borough’s maintenance of trees it has planted, including some, he said, that were part of last year’s streetscape project at the eastern end of the same street.

“The problem is that this is a heat island,” he said, gesturing to the street and parking lot. “In summer, this is just a baking pan. So you need trees in here. But you have to care for them.”

Neumann said no decision on the species of new trees has been made. The borough’s Shade Tree Committee has made suggestions “that we will look to incorporate,” she said.