I am sure Mike Pace and his crew (Santo, Brandon, and Lawrence) are rolling their eyes at this title if they are reading this. This past week I happened upon them as they were taking down a tree in Brooklyn Heights.
Although I knew the city provided this street maintenance, it was my first time to see it in action. Mike took a moment to tell us about what they do...
According to Mike any tree gowing up to 15' back from the street is the responsibility of the city. If there is any tree damage or concerns a building should first call 311. An inspector comes out and then decides what needs to be done. Having the inspector take a look before any steps are taken seems to always be the best course of action, especially since it sounds as if one can get a fine for taking things into their own hands.
If the tree is diseased or dead, they may have to do what they did on this day. They don't just chop it and yell 'Timber!'. They have a careful process that , for lack of a better word, seems like dismantling. Four trucks roll up. One person up in a cherrypicker (that was Lawrence) starts cutting the outer, thin branches. Each bunch is dropped or is tied with a rope and lowered as it's cut. The guys on the ground throw it all in the chipper. Lawrence works down, cutting and lowering the branches until he is close to the main trunk. Then they have a truck with an arm and large gripper that grasps the trunk. They chainsaw right below the grip and the arm lowers the severed piece to the ground. They continue this until the entire trunk is taken down.
This day they were taking down what I think they called a 'weed tree', an Ailanthus, a tree that grows up quickly out of any available crack in the sidewalk. Ironically this is the same tree that is the subject of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It's a quick growing tree, not very dense, and when they die they become brittle. In this case the branches shattered like glass when they hit the sidewalk.
matt at apartmenttherapy dot com