NEW ROCHELLE, NY — A 9-year old girl was crushed by a 44” dead oak located at 4 Maywood Road. When the tree fell on her, the girl suffered two broken legs and a crushed pelvis.
It need not have happened.
The oak tree on City property had been reported to the City of New Rochelle as early as June 25, 2019 although City records only show September 11, 2019.
Based on a review of City and Con Edison records by Talk of the Sound, there were repeated discussions between the two about taking down the tree in the weeks before it fell.
A neighbor who resides on Mountain Avenue across the street from 4 Maywood Road emailed Council Member Barry Fertel in September to complain that messages left with the New Rochelle Forestry Department on June 25th and September 11th did not get a response.
On September 12th, the day after the second call by the neighbor, the City of New Rochelle made a referral to Con Edison with a digital photo attached. The same day Con Edison replied confirming receipt of the email referral.
The tree was marked with a red “x” and the a blue “c” by Paul Rebholz, the Tree Inspector for the City of New Rochelle. The date this happened is not clear.
“The ‘X’ is a reminder that this tree is marked specifically for removal, and the blue ‘C’ designates that Con Ed will do the initial removals to clear the conflicts with their wires,” said New Rochelle Public Works Commissioner Scott Pickup. “After we receive notification from Con Ed that this job is complete, we add these locations to our annual removals contract and the balance of the trunk is removed, and we grind the stump to grade.”
On September 16th, the neighbor on Mountain Avenue contacted Council Member Barry Fertel to complain that despite calls in June and the week before, no one from the Forestry Department had responded to her about her report that the tree on 4 Maywood was dead.
The neighbor told Fertel the tree had “no leaves all summer” and express concern if the tree fell it will “take down my utility lines, possibly cause destruction to our homes and also could cause injuries or worse loss of lives.”
On September 17th, Fertel made a formal complaint that was logged in the City’s complaint tracking system. Later that day, Rebholz notified the neighbor that Con Edison had been contacted to “top” the tree so that it could be added to the City’s list of trees to be removed.
On October 25th, there was a meeting between senior City staff and Con Ed officials at City Hall where the 4 Maywood tree was discussed.
“We reiterated our concerns with the lack of timely progress on the list of trees for topping.” said Pickup.
The City followed up with an email on October 30th and again October 31st at 11:13 a.m. By 6:30 p.m. the tree was down and a little girl on her way to the hospital.