Tree Warden Issues Decision on Century Old Elm Tree in Old Greenwich

On Monday Greenwich Tree Warden Greg Kramer issued his decision on the fate of a century old Elm Tree on Sound Beach Ave at the corner of Edgewater.

Last Thursday, 81 people attended a Zoom public hearing on the fate of the tree, with residents testifying both in favor of chopping down the tree and in favor of preserving it.

Elm tree at corner of Edgewater and Sound Beach Ave. Nov 5, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Those in favor of keeping the tree agreed it was in decline, but said its canopy contributed habitat, shade and CO2 absorption.

Steve Gospodinoff from the tree department said he had prodded the tree and discovered decay, and that a tree climber on his crew had described “heavy decline.”

Representatives from the Greenwich Tree Conservancy noted that if the tree was actually a hazard, the tree warden wouldn’t be required to post it.

She argued that if the tree was a hazard the town would remove it without posting it first.

Greenwich Tree Warden, Dr. Greg Kramer via Zoom Nov 5, 2020

Neighbors in the Edgewater community said the tree blocked sight lines for people turning left (north) on Sound Beach Ave. Marc Ducret recalled accidents going back many years, and provided a list of three recent crashes in which the tree was noted as a factor.

On Monday Dr. Kramer announced he had approved the removal of the tree.

He cited its declining health and close proximity to high risk targets including a school, a church, sidewalks, busy roads and utilities.

“This decision is based upon professional inspections of the tree that have deemed it a hazard due to severe trunk and crown decay,” Kramer wrote. “Additionally there is historical documentation of large limb failure.”

Kramer also said that sight line obstruction was taken into consideration in his final decision.

“However he said, (sight line) would not supersede the potential risk the tree current poses related to declining health warranting its removal,” he added.

Any party aggrieved by the decision may, within 10 days, appeal the decision to state superior court.