Trees are a tricky thing. They are really tricky in this city. Super tricky in our old, old neighborhood where the maples are 100 years old and reach 90+ feet high.
And then you have an ice storm.
This is three streets away from us. They are our school friends. And that tree that uprooted and tipped over was enormous. Thank goodness nobody was hurt, and she said they needed a new car anyway.
We have a maple tree that hangs over our house. It belongs to our neighbor and is set back just far enough from the street that it is a "private" tree, not a "city" tree...meaning the city doesn't take responsibility for (read: prune) it.
|Pruned, April 2010|
|Pruned, May 2012|
So we do. We've pruned this tree out of our own pocket for 10 years. The last prune was May 2012. I consider it really expensive insurance.
Then the December 2013 ice storm happens and we lose our our electrical mast for the 2nd time in 18 months. Same tree dropping branches.
Finally, a discussion with the neighbor that owns it. Safety is number one concern. There is ice storm damage that needs to be taken care of. Tree is in decline, getting worse. We say, let's consider removal and suggest helping with cost. Lots of head nodding, but not much interest is shown. Weeks go by and then...there's a really windy morning...
|Drooping = Split Branch|
|Diamond = Large Split|
...so I look up to see a really large branch swaying and twisting and splintering in the wind. Above our car. Just outside the front door.
Here's where I tell you I go a little crazy. Maybe it's mama bear protecting her kids? Maybe it's mama bear imagining no car and shuttling three littles in subzero weather? Maybe it's mama bear picturing herself scaling the tree with a saw in hand and throwing the broken branch on the neighbor's yard?
Take your choice.
(The arborist may or may not have almost witnessed some scaling by this mama of three littles who use the front door after he said someone would be nuts to park or walk under the tree like that....ARGH!!!)
5 very long days after that windy morning, the branch -and other dead, broken, damaged- came down.
It's a point of contention for me. I love our neighborhood for so many reasons, and the big, beautiful, mature trees is one of them. But the less of this tree I see hanging over our house, the better I feel.
I just don't feel good about the cost. I've done some digging since the last prune in May 2012, trying to figure out where the responsibility for taking care of this tree lies. The owner? The neighbor? It appears that if there is a hazard to the neighbor present, it is the owner's responsibility to mitigate that hazard. The problem is the process of getting the owner to act. The city moves quickly for nobody.
The owner doesn't live there. They rent out the house. Our urgent communication wasn't replied to for days and no offer to act was given. So in this situation, we acted. We couldn't wait.
Instead, we're waiting to hear from them about our suggestion to share the cost...while we continue to monitor this poor tree and keep track of its decline (read: continued hazard) which may lead to removal.
In the meantime, I will cringe just a little bit less with the next big gust of wind ;)