Richard Brummel does not closely resemble a Lorax, that pint sized, orange mustachioed-creature from the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, though he does try at least to speak for the trees. He was before the Mineola Village Board during a regular meeting on January 16 at the village hall to speak of a particular one, a red oak tree at 208 Roslyn Road “that I’m concerned might be cut down by a developer.”
Brummel, a resident of East Hills, submitted a letter to the village board as well as one from an arborist petitioning that the tree might be preserved.
“I discovered a tree that an arborist believes is a very significant specimen,” he said. “Developers have been on a rampage throughout our areas. They typically demolish the houses, build bigger houses, cut down all the trees.”
The tree is estimated to be 125 years old with a 90-ft. crown and is located in the corner of the rear yard of the property. The house is boarded up and reportedly in foreclosure.
“A neighbor told me that the bank owns it now,” Brummel said, going on to cite increased development in the area, specifically mentioning the area of the Roslyn Country Club and tree preservation laws that have reportedly been put into place in both in North Hempstead and Garden City.
“I understand that some people feel the other way, they say sometimes trees get too old, sometimes trees are in the way, sometimes it’s the residents’ prerogatives,” he said.
“What makes you think the tree’s going to be cut down?” mayor Scott Strauss asked. “The house is probably going to be sold to another family and they’ll probably live and spend many happy days underneath the shade of that tree, as will the other houses around it because that three I think covers three other properties.”
Brummel said the house is “susceptible to development” since a developer could potentially update the house to make a profit.
“What developers typically do,” he said, “is level the property, they just do it, it’s their M.O. for whatever reason,” but admitted that “I don’t know for a fact. I can’t guarantee that it’s going to happen, the risk is there... and I don’t like to take the chance that the risk will be fulfilled.”
He went on to say that “tree law doesn’t say that you deny everyone the right to cut down a tree but it says if there’s a tree that the public is going to balance the interest to, the interest of the public, the interest of the community versus the desires of a developer.”
Mineola has received “Tree City USA” recognition by the National Arbor Day Foundation for the past 27 consecutive years for its continuing efforts at planting trees. The village will also be replacing approximately 450 trees that were damaged, destroyed or uprooted after Hurricane Sandy.
“We have a very, very good tree program here,” Strauss said. “We spend tens of thousands of dollars a year in replanting trees. They’re important to us, they’re important to the environment here, they’re important to the streetscape of Mineola and what we want it to be.”