The city cut down five half-century-old trees on the west side of the 9400 block of the Roosevelt Boulevard on May 2 because someone had damaged them so badly they were in danger of falling down.
On April 30, a Parks & Recreation Department inspector saw that the trees in front of 9432 Roosevelt Blvd. had been sawed on both sides almost all the way through, Patricia Crossan, a Parks & Recreation district manager, told the Northeast Times in a May 9 email.
Crossan said it’s not known who is responsible, but it’s clear the intentionally damaged trees were a peril.
“We know they were deliberately cut in such a way that people could have been killed,” she said. “The trees were just holding on. We got to them as soon as we could after being notified by our inspector.”
That inspector, Nick Traynor, spotted damage on the 50-year-old little leaf lindens that was not easy to see, Crossan said.
“Thank God he saw it. … His eagle eye, I believe, saved lives,” Crossan said. “The person who had done this is amoral and criminal, and I’m so glad no one died because of this.”
Mysterious damage to trees isn’t an everyday occurrence, Crossan said, but it does happen around the city. And trees have been damaged before on the 9400 block of the Roosevelt Boulevard. Trees nearby those recently removed were damaged and removed in 2011.
Those trees, some on the Boulevard median, might have been poisoned.
In January 2012, the Northeast Times reported that Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez (D-7th dist.) said she had gotten complaints about illegal removal of trees in front of 9432 Roosevelt Blvd. She said the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation had to remove some trees from the Boulevard’s median. She said PennDOT suspects the trees and some grass were poisoned by a chemical that was sprayed, and referred the matter to the state Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry for inspection.
The councilwoman had said the owner, which is listed on city records as Merck Real Estate LLC of Bloomsburg, Pa., was cited for illegally removing two trees.
Although an urgent-care center is planned for the property, the building has been unoccupied for years. It has, however, periodically been the focus of neighborhood attention. In 2009, a proposal to use the property for a methadone clinic drew so much opposition from residents and elected officials that it was dropped. ••