May 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Is It Time to Reevaluate The Trees in Our Town?

One doesn’t need to look far to see the damage of the tropical storm that struck [last] Tuesday. Just walking along the streets of Teaneck, you see 100-foot oak trees have decimated and destroyed streets, electricity wires, houses and everything in between. The major catalyst in the damage has been the neighborhood’s gigantic trees. Like many suburban areas, we have 100-foot trees that surround the town and country and these are the same trees that have been the greatest cause of damage in the storm.

This past week had to have been a wake-up call for Teaneck. We’ve seen the relief efforts but we haven’t seen or heard of the preparation to assure that this doesn’t happen again. The common cause has been the fallen trees and, with so many around Teaneck, with the destruction caused by the trees in these storms, is it worth keeping them?

There should be more than enough reasons for our town to reassess the ecological planning. It makes one wonder why we have these trees to begin with if they are a clear hazard when a storm strikes.

It should come as no surprise that trees are useful and beneficial to any suburb and Teaneck is no exception. Trees are environmentally friendly, provide shade and heat protection, and are aesthetically pleasing (when they are standing of course, not uprooted and tearing through someone’s house). There are many other reasons that are also important to the function of a town and they aren’t known by most people.

One of those reasons is that trees provide a defensive design to streets. Studies have shown that streets with trees on them are safer to drive on and are safer for pedestrians on the sides of the streets. Trees also create a vertical wall that subconsciously encourages a driver to travel at a slower speed.

There are also economic factors to having trees and particularly large trees in front of one’s house or in a town in general. Being that people like trees, houses tend to be valued higher when they have trees planted in front of them than houses that don’t have trees.

I understand the importance of having trees and nature in Teaneck and deforesting the entire town would be an overreaction. The underlying fact is that trees give a town and a county value and benefits that go beyond just the allure of nature, even the tall trees that have wreaked havoc on Teaneck have significance and importance for everyday life.

Teaneck is going to have to make a decision: Do we keep the trees for all the benefits they provide, or do we cut them and avoid another disaster? How many wake-up calls do we need? I wouldn’t say that Teaneck has to destroy the ecological landscape as we know it, but it might be time to re-evaluate the placement and sturdiness of some of the trees in the town. While most of the trees were able to withstand the storm, the ones that couldn’t are the ones that are devastating the town.

Mayer Fink
Teaneck
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