David Stone
Natural born Roosevelt Island tree slated for destruction by New York Public Library.
Natural born Roosevelt Island tree slated for destruction by New York Public Library.
Photo: Frank Farance

"According to the NYPL construction crew, the following healthy tree will be cut down as part of the NYPL RI branch construction," Frank Farance wrote in a letter of protest as the Public Library is poised to follow RIOC's lead in destroying healthy trees on Roosevelt Island.

For RIOC and perhaps the New York Public Library, the callous disregard for community interests suggests a determination to reimagine Roosevelt Island in the image of outsiders.

Residents were not consulted when RIOC destroyed old growth trees on the Rivercross lawn, changing the space's developed character, or outside Octagon Field.

Nor when the library, which originated with volunteers in Westview before being taken over by NYPL, decided a tree growing naturally along the sidewalk just doesn't fit in.

Farance wrote, "The construction worker explained that the tree was not planted, it grew (according to him) 'because a squirrel burred some chestnuts and the tree grew.' 

"Almost all of the trees on the Island are nursery-grown trees (kept straight in stilts), whereas this tree is purely natural. These kinds of trees are rare, and Roosevelt Island only has a few, such as the odd-shaped-but-natural trees around Al Lewis park."

As you can see, the natural tree was included in the architect's drawing for the new library.

Architects's drawing shows the tree expected to fit in.
Architects's drawing shows the tree expected to fit in.
Photo credit: Frank Farance

But, according to Farance, "The construction worker said 'this tree is a large weed,' and it will be removed and replaced with an artificially grown tree from a nursery.

"In fact it is a tree, it's just not grown from a nursery."

SAVE THIS TREE

"Honestly," Farance concludes, with escalating frustration, "what better example can we have of natural, biology, environment, and science than a natural tree created by squirrels in front of an institution (NYPL) devoted to knowledge?

"I don't know whom to contact to save this tree, so can y'all escalate this IMMEDIATELY to NYPL staff? RIOC removed a bunch of trees recently, to the horror of many. The lack of community involvement MUST STOP."

We couldn't agree more.