Letter: The Tree Debate

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Recently, a friend of mine told me about the trees that are designated for demolition along South Oyster Bay Road. The removal of these 180+ trees, which is currently underway, spans the distance between Syosset and Bethpage. A debate surrounds this issue, with residents on one side and county officials on the other. Those in favor of the demolition state that the trees, which are at least 40 years old, have uprooted sidewalks along South Oyster Bay Road. This poses a serious safety concern for those who walk there. Those opposed have stated that trees lend a charm and beauty to the area; they have also argued that trees help the ecosystem, as well as offer shade from the heat. As anyone who has driven along the roadway knows, rush hour traffic can be hampered by the angle of the sun at that time.

I love trees. When we first moved here, I was delighted that the trees formed a beautiful canopy. When autumn changes the leaves from brilliant green to muted golds and coppers, I pop outside with my camera to capture the beauty. As time has gone by, more trees have disappeared, and no longer line our little section of suburbia. This makes walking in the warm weather uncomfortable, as there is no longer any shade.

Our home used to boast a large maple that stood out front like a sentry. Over time, the tree became diseased, but not before it provided many benefits. That tree helped to lower our energy costs, letting sun through the barren branches in winter and filling out to provide shade in summer. It was home to birds, squirrels and other insects. Although the fallen leaves were a lot of work, my husband and I enjoyed raking. Our daughter loved to jump in the piles.

Trees benefit humans immensely. They are our greatest aid in reducing airborne carbon. A tree can change 48 pounds of carbon yearly into enough oxygen to keep two people alive. They also reduce ozone levels. And they are beautiful additions to any neighborhood; they’re one reason people move here — nature’s splendid beauty.

The county has promised that new trees with shallower root systems will be planted in place of the majestic old wood, to mitigate disruption of cement sidewalks. While I am grateful that the trees will be planted, I’m concerned about the wildlife that will be displaced.

Truly, it will be a sad day when those stately oaks and maples are removed. It will change the landscape forever. Cement will have replaced the beauty that was once a canopy of greenery. But I keep the faith; one day, those new saplings will give shade to our children.

Patty Servidio

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