"Shocking" was the first word in the email Leanne Bloom sent to me.
"I've just driven by the property on Route 9 for at Tarrytown/Irvington border," continued Bloom. "I'm in shock because EVERY tree has been cut down on at least three acres facing South Broadway. I can't understand how this could happen? Weren't they required to preserve trees? I've seen the plan talking about preservation and honoring history of area. Would the planning board approve removing hundreds of trees in a 'clear cut' style on such a major thoroughfare?"
To see this "development" in the large-home development for myself, I went and took a drive-by tour of the project and took these pictures and video on a recent evening. Approaching dusk, there were about as many deer on the land as trees designated to be saved (circled by orange mesh). There are beautiful giant bolders determining the winding landscape. However, it is true, the area closest to Broadway is bare save for dirt piles and industrial-strength vehicles.
Developer Andy Todd in a former Patch article on the now-approved 84-acre development did indeed say he was eager to honor the history here and the land itself, intending to preserve as much woodland as he can in Greystone.
However, Todd said there were other practical matters to attend to that required this clearing up front:
- to make way for two storm water retention ponds, at the edge near the Old Croton Aqueduct and along the South Broadway wall
- to remove dead or dying trees along the wall
Todd said in response to this recent citizen criticism that taking down these trees upfront was not a new idea. The substantial storm run-off from the steep decline of the property to South Broadway had historically been a problem before he purchased it, he said. The old Greystone that once squatted atop the land had an inadequate stormwater management for modern times and its 100-year-old clay piping system was in disrepair.
As a result, rain water would pour onto South Broadway and often freeze in the winter, causing hazardous conditions necessitating orange cones on Broadway and even accidents. The Planning Board had actually charged the developer with fixing this issue, Todd said. The fix requires clearing much of the trees visible from Broadway to make room for "retention ponds" at this lowest site on the land.
Additionally hazardous, said Todd, were the old, dead or dying and often invasive trees lining the roadway, limbs occassionally falling onto the road and leaning on telephone poles and power lines. Four trees fell onto the wires in just the first year he owned the property.
The good news is that this as bad as it's ever going to look here.
"This is the worst day of the year to see it," Todd said. "This is not close to what it will be, which will be a beautiful setting in no way resembling how it looks now. We are planting way more trees than we are taking down on the property and they will be new healthy trees. I invite your readers to look at the pictures of the pre-existing condition of the trees [in PDF attached] along the wall on South Broadway to remind them these were not specimen trees but rather dead or dying trees that provide virtually no screening to South Broadway. I know it's hard to imagine it when you're standing on South Broadway, but we've always gone out of our way to save trees."
Within the development is an orginal tree-lined carriage road which they are preserving at a narrower width than the rest of the new roads, so as to keep these parallel lines of old trees intact. Readers can view century-old photos of this road attached as well. "We are building an 18-foot wide road on this stretch of our new roadway at great cost to preserve both sides of the tree line," Todd said.
Come early spring, all the frontal clearing is to be made attractive with new evergreen plantings providing more screening from the road than used to exist there. They won't be sapling trees but a minimum of 14-foot plantings, which can't go in until construction is complete elsewhere at the risk of getting killed off. Todd wants to assure people that in due time the view from Broadway should be better than it once was, and the removals do not portend clear cutting over the site.
Todd of course needs appealing landscaping to sustain the prices he will ask on these properties, and there is no intent to have the homes themselves be visible from Broadway. The utility lines will run underground throughout the property as well.
Planning Board members recently suggested to Todd that he get ahead of these (anticipated) complaints with some signs for drivers saying "new plantings coming soon," with a fuller notice for anyone who wants to read it to explain what's happening here. Todd agreed and will further discuss this at tonight's meeting (see below).
Images he shared here include:
- Pre existing condition of the trees along the wall on South Broadway
- The historic Greystone tree lined road we restored and are preserving
- Renderings of the proposed Greystone entrance
- Pics of the types of trees that will be planted on the Greystone Property
Still, concerned citizens write that there seemed to be trees once marked to be saved that are no more.
One Patch reader commented: "Have you seen what these guys have done at Greystone? All of the trees on Broadway are gone! Was this part of the plan? Initially there were trees marked with orange fencing and now those are gone too... When my young children asked, 'Why did they take down all of those nice big trees,' I thought I should mention it. It really seems a bit 'over the top'! I counted seven large trees with orange fencing before they were all cut down."
To this, Todd says, that "the plan was always the plan" and no tree status has changed. Each tree removal, he added, was approved by the Village arborist.
Want to voice your opinion or hear more on this? On Wednesday at 7 pm there will be a joint meeting of the Planning Board and the Architectural Review Board in Tarrytown Village Hall, 1 Depot Plaza, to review a new entryway building and the first of the new Greystone homes. The Village arborist will be there to comment on questions about the removals.