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:

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


Dod Crane


  1. Dear Dod Crane and Rhinebeck Community,

    This would be a crime to remove these trees as there are other alternatives. We moved here because of the the friendly local community and tree lined streets to the town. Being a certified arborist I would challenge the arborist that was hired by Central Hudson to create this assessment. Central Hudson’s mission is to remove the trees as it is less costly in the end to remove versus periodically pruning the trees correctly. They are looking at their bottom line! This must be stopped and Central Hudson forced to prune these trees correctly and asthectically. I plan on attending the meeting and would offer my service pro-bono to help stop Central Hudson from removing unnecessary trees, help create a long term tree maintenance and planting plan of new tree for the all generations to enjoy.

    Leighton Allenby
    MA Certified Arborist (retired)

    1. Dear Dod Crane and Rhinebeck Community Forum,

      First of all ,thank you to Dod for writing this letter to inform us all about the current tree removal issue and for proposing a well considered plan to the Village Mayor and Trustees.

      I would like to direct everyone to the wonderful designation the Village of Rhinebeck received in 2011.. See below the full text that was released by the Village

      May 3, 2011
      Village of Rhinebeck
      Arbor Day Foundation Names Rhinebeck Tree City USA Community
      Mayor Jim Reardon announced that the Village of Rhinebeck was recognized by the
      Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters
      and the USDA Forest Service as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to
      urban forestry.
      Rhinebeck has met the four standards to become a Tree City USA community. Tree City
      USA communities must have a tree board or department, a tree care ordinance,
      comprehensive community forestry program and an Arbor Day program and
      “This award is the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work by an extremely
      dedicated group of volunteers. The Village of Rhinebeck is a very beautiful example of
      what can be accomplished when trees are an integral part of the landscape. The Village
      Board is grateful for the efforts of Tree Commission Chairperson Cecily Frazier and
      members Meg Crawford, Svend Beecher, Nicholas Doyle, Cynthia Fennell, Tess
      McKellen and Jason Heimink. Working in concert with Trustee Howard Traudt the
      liaison to the commission, this group of individuals is responsible for this most
      prestigious recognition states Reardon”.
      For more information about the Village of Rhinebeck visit http://www.rhinebecknyvillage.org
      or about Tree City USA visit http://www.arborday.org/TreeCityUSA

      It is incumbent upon all of us who appreciate our Village and Environment to support all efforts that preserve and increase the tree canopy and tree numbers along village streets. I will attend and hope to see others at the Village Board meeting next Tuesday (2/9) at 7 PM.

      Linda D. Souers
      Former Councilperson, Town of Rhinebeck

  2. Maybe it is time to put the electric underground? It is surprising to me that a well-developed village center like Rhinebeck still has electric wires on wooden poles in the town center. Especially along route 9 and market street, having it underground would be a lot nicer, leave space for trees, be less sensitive to weather, etc?

  3. I recommend that Central Hudson and the Village start now providing replacement trees in locations and areas where they expect that tree trimming or removal will be required in the future. It makes no sense to wait until trees are dying or increasingly as risk of needing drastic trimming or removal to plant new trees.

  4. Thanks to all for your participation in the conversation related to the scheduled pruning/proposed removal of some trees in the Village by Central Hudson. The Village Board will continue to consider the opinion of our Tree Commission, which was created to advise the Board on such matters, and input from Village residents. As it stands, 114 trees have been numbered and each of these trees will be individually assessed by each Village Board member. These trees will be assessed based on the following criteria: Overall health of the tree, general appearance of the tree, the tree’s contribution to the Village’s character (in particular, the canopy created over the street), the individual tree’s relative importance/prominence when compared to the directly adjacent trees, and the tree’s impact on infrastructure such as sidewalks and storm drainage. To be clear, Central Hudson will be pruning trees throughout the Village, as they have done for many years, with or without approval from the Village Board. Central Hudson will NOT be removing trees without approval of the Village Board. I believe the general consensus of the board is to work with Central Hudson and only approve the removal of those trees which are in the poorest health, do not contribute to the beautiful character of the Village, and will not greatly change the canopy that currently exists and appeals to so many residents and visitors. There is certainly a financial benefit to the removal of trees, but the plan will not provide for clear-cutting of our street trees to save money on tree care in the future. Selective removal will eliminate some of the worst trees and allow for the planting of new trees of varied species with the goal of improving and maintaining the beauty of the street-scape for generations to come. This will be a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting and will most likely be included in the Tree Commission section of the meeting. This is definitely a public matter and will NOT be discussed in Executive Session. Thanks again for your collective concern for the unique character of the Village that we all love and for your participation in this process. – Heath

  5. You ALL Have more money than God while children are starving in this country and the best thing you have to argue about is cutting down trees. I quake for the future of this country.

  6. Please find a way to minimize the loss of / damage to our village trees….It is my understanding that we have been positively cited for our trees in this community……

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