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Local News

October 3, 2013

Tree vandalism raises ire of city board

Two young trees on Division Street and a third on Elm Street have been vandalized, prompting reaction from the Oneonta city Environmental Board.

“It’s been going on for years,” board chairman David Hutchison said Wednesday. “This time, it just made me angry, and I thought let’s do something about it.”

Hutchison reported the vandalism to Oneonta city police, and the Environmental Board is promoting steps to protect the city’s tree population.

The damages are estimated at about $500 per tree, city officials said. But the cost to the community also impacts the appearance of city streets and thwarts efforts of residents, volunteers and employees working to beautify and enhance the city’s environment.

The mayor, Common Council and Environmental have supported a “vigorous tree-planting program” in recent years, according to a media release from the city. Several hundred trees have been planted in parking areas and median in recent years, and in the past two years, the program has been expanded to planting trees on private property with an owner’s permission, Hutchison said.

About 50 trees were planted in the spring, Hutchison said, and another 80 to 100 are to be planted this fall. Hutchison and the Environmental Board are encouraging residents to be on the look out for vandals.

Hutchison, who reported the destruction last week of two trees on Division Street to the Oneonta Police Department, and the city encourage anyone who sees vandalism to call police immediately at 432-1111. The board suggests that residents take steps to curtail future tree vandalism.

“A front porch light in areas with newly planted trees might help deter the reckless conduct of the few,” the release said. “Individuals can make a difference by being alert to potential vandalism and diverting friends from inappropriate behavior. If you see something that is about to happen, say something!”

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