Letter to the editor – Rhinebeck Village-Central Hudson Tree Plan

 

Dear Friends

As you may have heard, the Rhinebeck Village Board and Central Hudson are proposing to a) remove up to
127 trees from Village streets, primarily on Route 9 from Northern Dutchess Hospital to Terrapin
(almost all the trees on the west side of Route 9), the east end of Livingston St., South Street,
and East Market Street from the Good Shepard Church to the Mobil Station and b) drastically prune
the remaining trees to conform to a 10’x10′ box around the utility wires.
If this plan is carried out, most of the pruned trees will be stumps and Rhinebeck will
lose the tree canopy on the North entrance to the village and on the other streets noted as well.
A good detailed synopsis of the origin and current status of this problem can be found in the
River Chronicle at the following link:
http://www.columbiagreenemedia.com/river_chronicle/article_9e7dd096-c5e3-11e5-972b-b73f3c501775.html

I believe the Village can create a plan that is less precipitous and that will preserve the canopy
and address safety concerns over the next few years. I’m sending you this email in hopes that
you will a) forward it to others you think may be supportive of saving Rhinebeck Village trees and
b) contact Rhinebeck Village Board members (emails provided below) to express your support for
minimal tree removal and minimal tree pruning, and c) attend a Village Board meeting next Tuesday (2/9)
at 7 PM in the Village Hall where this matter will be discussed.

The Village Board is currently considering options for removal and pruning, that range being
a) removal of all 127 trees to minimal removal of only dead or clearly dying trees, and
b) drastic pruning of remaining trees to conform to industry standards (ie 10’x 10’ft square
around all electric wires plus 15′ clearance below lowest wires – most trees would be
unrecognizable as trees under this standard) to minimal pruning of remaining trees (ie modest
pruning around the wires only, leaving the visually pleasing tree canopy on our streets intact).

I have attended the Village Board meeting with Central Hudson described in the River Chronicle
article above and have inspected all 127 trees with members of the Village Board and a Tree
Commission representative (Meg Crawford) and believe the best course of action for the Village Board
is as follows:

Rhinebeck Village-Central Hudson Tree Plan

Tree Removal: Remove at most 10-15 of the 127 trees (dead or dying)
Tree Pruning of Remaining Trees: Minimal pruning around the wires (eg 3-4 foot distance)
and no removal of large limbs enforced via a Village Board
formal resolution limiting Central Hudson to this pruning
specification vs. their much larger standard
(10’x 10’ft square, plus 15′ below)

Follow-on action: 1) start aggressive planting of replacement trees offset from power lines
starting in the higher visual impact areas (eg Route 9 and Route 308)
2) press Central Hudson on future alternatives such as burying electrical wires

Other notes/thoughts on this matter include:

1) Next Village Board Meeting: The Village Board will discuss this matter next Tuesday (2/9) at 7 PM.
2) Decision Timing: Central Hudson plans to start work by the end of February,
3) Election: Take note that there is a Village election upcoming in March and this issue
will likely be an important factor in that election.
4) Tree benefits: Studies have shown that street trees have a calming effect, slow down traffic,
and cut down traffic noise.
5) No data on power problems: Central Hudson representatives have no statistics on the
number of power outages in Rhinebeck Village due to trees. This begs the question that
Central Hudson is trying to fix a problem by applying a global standard to a specific
location that does not have that problem.
6) Tradeoffs: The Tree Commission’s technical assessment of tree conditions appears
accurate to my lay knowledge, and Village costs/budget are always a concern, but
my opinion is that the esthetics of the Village far outweigh these other factors.
I believe if the Village can buy time now (over the next 1-2 years) to fully investigate all
alternatives (vs. the current deadline of the end of February) that more thoughtful
solution(s) satisfactory to all parties can be identified and implemented.
7) Tree count: The count of trees involved discussed at the above-mentioned meeting (and
reported by River Chronical) is 127, but a recent email from Mayor Tortarella noted
a count of 114. I’m not sure at this point which total number is more accurate-this can
be clarified on 2/9.

If the above makes sense to you, could you please email Village Board members supporting
minimal tree removal and pruning (feel free to compose your own email copy/paste or the
section labeled “Rhinebeck Village Central Hudson Tree Plan” with edits as you see fit ).
Also and most importantly please attend next Tuesday’s Village Board meeting – my experience
on the Rhinebeck Town Board has made it clear to me that resident participation in public
meetings is key to influencing municipal decision making.

Village Board Emails

Heath Tortarella, Mayor village.mayor@rhinebeck-ny.gov

Howard Traudt, Deputy Mayor traudt4@aol.com
Gary Bassett, Trustee gbassett22@gmail.com
Sean Kemp, Trustee sean@seankemp.com
Scott Cruikshank, Trustee sctcruikshank@aol.com

Regards

Dod Crane