To the editor,
I was saddened to learn that the 250-350-year-old red oak tree in Teaneck was cut down by order of the County Executive.
My sadness is not the result of my love of trees, which I do have, but for the length of time it took those who blocked our plan to take down the tree two years ago to come to their senses. In 2010 as Executive Vice President of the Union for Traditional Judaism I ordered the tree to be removed because I had seen two massive branches come down either on our property or on Cedar Lane. Two arborists and the town DPW had agreed that the tree was already at a threat level of no less than 8 on a scale of 12.
This information was discussed at a public meeting at which a group of citizens sought to block us from removing the tree. Aspersions were cast by no less prominent a figure than State Sen. Loretta Weinberg. She wanted the tree to be designated as a memorial to her late husband Irwin. Weinberg and her allies declared their fight to keep the tree from "destruction" (so it reads on the dedication plaque at the foot of the tree) and they got their way.
All this at a time when the UTJ was attempting to sell its property through bankruptcy proceedings in order to pay all creditors in full and continue its educational work. We did both, but not before tree protesters slowed our progress through bankruptcy, adding six digit costs to the proceedings.
I was amazed at the time that the Teaneck council as well as Bergen County rather than supporting the protection residents, refused to take any action in the face of a rowdy few and one well-known politician. I have had to live with the knowledge that leaders left every resident and visitor in Teaneck at risk for over two years.
The passing of this tree is the end of an era. But that is the way of all material things including ourselves. Risking lives for tree limbs is a perversion of conservation.
It is more than ironic that those who celebrated protecting the nearly dead tree last year now witnessed its destruction, rightfully I hope, burdened by conscience.
I will be left only with the pleasant memories of the Oak tree in bloom outside my office window.
Rabbi Ronald D. PriceTeaneck letters, June 20 : page 1 - NorthJersey.com
Executive Vice President, Emeritus
Union for Traditional Judaism