Should Riverhead Town chop down a 200-year-old Wading River tree?

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The 200-year-old tree (background) near where Wading River Manor Road and North Country Road meet. The town says its needs to come down.

The Wading River Historical Society wants to save a 200-year-old tree at the corner of Wading River Manor Road and North Country Road, but Riverhead Town says it needs to come down.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George ‘Gio’ Woodson said at a Riverhead Town Board work session Thursday morning that two arborists have said the tree is a danger to residents and he has a responsibility to take it down.

“I don’t like taking down trees, but it’s my responsibility to do what’s right for the town,” Mr. Woodson said. “I don’t want the liability to be on my head.”

Wading River Historical Society representatives Sid and Stephanie Bail said that since the tree can’t talk, they were at the meeting to speak on its behalf. Mr. Bail asked if just the more dangerous parts of the tree, which is in a town right of way,  could be removed. His wife said she doesn’t feel taking the tree down without trying to keep it is the answer.

“I think we should have somebody look at ways to try to save it,” Ms. Bail said. “I don’t think that’s been accomplished.”

One problem, Mr. Woodson said, is that the trunk is hollowed out, so removing branches wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem.

“Once it is hollowed out and has animals living in, it it’s never going to grow back,” said Councilman Jim Wooten.

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