UPDATE: Removal of Centuries-Old Teaneck Tree Pushed Back
A centuries-old red oak tree at Cedar Lane and Palisade Avenue is set to be removed by the end of the month after independent experts agreed with a county report that the tree posed a safety risk, officials said Wednesday.
A tree expert hired by Bergen County concluded the oak was decaying and presented a hazard to people and property, Patch reported last week. Experts hired by the Puffin Foundation, which donated money to preserve the tree, agreed with the county's report after an inspection on Tuesday, said Jeanne Baratta, chief of staff at the Bergen County Executive’s Office.
Officials planned to remove the tree May 30 or 31, Baratta said. The Puffin Foundation’s experts are also exploring “cloning” the tree.
William R. Comery, the county's tree expert, concluded the oak had widespread decay, 40 percent of its roots had been removed through roadway development along Cedar Lane and a lightning strike about five years ago had caused long-term damage.
"This tree, in my professional opinion, must be removed as soon as possible. The tree poses a real hazard to people and property. There is no treatment or method of care that will eliminate the hazard that this tree poses. Removal is the only option," Comery said in his report.
Officials cited the dangers posed to passing motorists, pedestrians and congregants of property-owner Netivot Shalom, which has a children’s play area below the large tree.
County officials had planned to cut down the tree by Memorial Day, but held off to allow Puffin’s experts to conduct an inspection.
The massive oak was inspected in a review of county-maintained trees prompted by Hurricane Sandy, Baratta said.
Patrick Allen, a tree expert hired by the Puffin Foundation, agreed with the county's findings but said better upkeep over the years could have helped the tree, NorthJersey.com reported.
Months earlier, Teaneck designated the 250 to 350-year-old oak as a historic site. Residents have long fought to preserve the tree and the county took over its maintenance through a conservation easement in 2011. The Puffin Foundation also donated $100,000 to help care for the tree.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg’s late husband Irwin successfully fought to save the tree when a developer wanted to build a parking lot on the property. , on Tuesday remembered asking workers handling the Cedar Lane redevelopment about the roots, according to the report.
"They said ‘absolutely,’ they are aware of it," she said in the report. "And they obviously weren’t.”