• Missing Trees From Your Hoboken Neighborhood? Here’s What’s Up

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    In the wake of tons of trees being cut down along Jackson Street and Jackson Street Park, many Hoboken residents want to know what has prompted this tree removal of a massive scale.

    With rumors flying that as many as 4,000 trees are to be chopped, residents took to social media to express their concerns.

    “Some inspired tree/stump art along Jackson Street. #SaveOurTrees,” user Ailene McGuirk wrote in the Southwest Resiliency Park page. Ailene shared pictures of the decorated tree stumps, which read, “Why??” and “What? No more oxygen?” and “What will happen next?” amongst other sentiments. Read on to learn all about the 411 on the missing trees from your Hoboken neighborhood. 

    tree removal hoboken PSEG

     

    Why The Trees Are Missing

    Other residents emailed Hoboken Girl, looking for answers. “It’s such a tragedy as Hoboken is losing all its sidewalk shade,” writes resident Jason Thomas.

    We know Hoboken wants answers and Hoboken Girl is committed to providing them, without throwing shade {sorry, had to}. We reached out to Vijay Chaudhuri, Communications Manager for the City of Hoboken. Here’s what he had to say:

    “PSE&G has committed to investing an unprecedented $318.6 million to upgrade the City’s energy systems, with modernization and consolidation of the Marshall and Madison Street substations. These investments also include flood risk reduction measures to the 16th St. Substation and high-pressure natural gas infrastructure in Hoboken.”

    Chaudhuri continues, “While the City is appreciative of PSE&G’s efforts towards flood risk reduction, it is committed to working with PSE&G and residents to address quality of life issues both during and after construction.”

    According to PSE&G, 31 trees were removed. However, PSE&G says the selected trees would have either died after pruning, were identified as hazards, were already in a state of poor health, dying or dead, or were in direct conflict with utility infrastructure.

    tree removal hoboken PSEG 2

    The History 

    So, let’s break it down: Back in April, Hoboken approved a $175 million power project by PSE&G.

    The goal of the project is to prevent another huge flooding issue in the City, a la Super Storm Sandy. As every Hoboken resident knows, the City is still recovering from Sandy on the daily and is looking for prevention methods to ensure such a flood never happens here again.

    That being said, PSE&G’s $175 million project seeks to redevelop the city’s power grid. The project combines the Marshall Street substation with the one on Madison Street. The goal of this is to “elevate and modernize” these 50-year-old facilities, which are both at risk to flooding. The project was approved on April 19th and has garnered the support of former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who at the time tweeted her approval.

    dawn zimmer pseg project approval

    Long-time Hoboken residents will remember that Dawn Zimmer was mayor when Super Storm Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012.

    That’s not all Zimmer said of the project.

    She went in more depth, previously, saying, “All of our residents and our business community need reliable energy, and this project will make certain that we never again have to endure weeks without lights or heat, like we did during Sandy. I have advocated strongly for an innovative design for the substation, and I want to thank PSE&G for continuing to work with the city to create a design that integrates with our urban landscape and replaces the unattractive substations surrounded by chain-link fences and barbed wire.”

    See More: The Dangers of Plastic Containers + Local Restaurants That Offer Alternatives

    She continued, “With the council’s support, this vital project will start construction this summer and when completed, will ensure a resilient and reliable energy source for our entire city.”

    Anyway, back to the project. The deal included a land swap, which means the municipality would transfer the lot adjacent to the existing Madison Substation to PSE&G. PSE&G would then accept that lot in exchange for the utility transferring to Marshall Street, property of Hoboken.

    The deal also purports that PSE&G would pay $1.245 million to the City to make up the difference in appraisal value of the two properties. That number also accounts for an annual “loss of use” payment — $275,250 — until PSE&G completes the Marshall Street Substation.

    rainbow hoboken trees

    {Photo credit: @jasonthomas99}

    How That Connects To The Trees

    You may be wondering: What the heck does this have to do with trees?

    Well, when the project was announced, it went into little detail explaining what the new power lines would mean. Residents became concerned when they saw trees being cut down in large numbers, not realizing that this is all part of the deal PSE&G struck with the municipality. According to PSE&G, “potentially hazardous trees” would be cut down so they wouldn’t interfere with the infrastructure.

    On May 20th, the City of Hoboken posted a page on their website called, “Message from PSE&G on Electrical Upgrades and Trees.”  The message reads as follows:

    As you may know, PSE&G is rebuilding its electric system infrastructure to replace or supplement its 50-plus-year-old circuit lines. To support this initiative, we are installing sturdier and taller overhead utility poles along Monroe and Jackson Streets in Hoboken. These 69kV poles are the standard of the 21st century and are needed to address increasing demand, reliability and storm preparedness.

    After inspecting the circuit route on Jackson Street, PSE&G—along with Quanika Stover, Hoboken’s Urban Forestry Coordinator—identified potentially hazardous trees that could be saved but are in need of pruning. There are also trees that will need to be removed and replaced because the health of the tree is in decline and the trimming would be too severe.

    We do not take tree removal lightly, as we know how important trees are to residents, the environment and community aesthetics. Rest assured we only remove a tree if it presents a true hazard to public safety. PSE&G’s 69kV Urban Reforestry initiative includes replacing trees that have been removed in order to accommodate the construction of a new circuit. We will plant utility-friendly, replacement trees in the spring. These new trees will not grow into electric conductors, providing an environmental and safety asset for current and future property owners.

    In addition, PSE&G will conduct directional pruning on the remaining trees that are consistent with the standards of the International Society of Arboriculture to help ensure the health of the trees.

    The message then goes into sharing proper tree care and maintenance for residents. To read the message in its entirety, check it out here.

    An update from Hoboken representatives was made to the message on the same day. The update goes on to say that all recommendations for tree removal were approved by a certified arborist and New Jersey licensed tree expert and that all removal is performed under the standards of the International Society of Arboriculture. Keep reading for more:

    The selected trees scheduled for removal would have either died after pruning, were identified as hazards, were already in a state of poor health, dying or dead, or were in direct conflict with utility infrastructure. The rationale used to determine removal included tree location, existing tree health, tree species such as whether or not it was considered utility friendly, maturity, height, and survival likelihood from pruning.

    The update also states, “Utility-friendly trees will help to improve electric service, safety, and reliability. PSE&G will be distributing letters regarding new tree maintenance to property owners adjacent to newly planted trees.”

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    Hoboken Girl has reached out to PSE&G for comment and we’re awaiting their response. We’d like to know the number of trees that will be cut down, if PSE&G plans to replace the trees, and if they do, whether they plan to replace mature trees with saplings or not at all {as it appears the trees are all saplings that have been replaced so far}. Hoboken Girl will update this article as we receive more information.

    In the meantime, remember what Dr. Seuss’ character the Lorax said:

    lorax unless

    “… Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

    What’s your reaction to the local tree removal?

    Share your thoughts in the comments below!


    Written by:

    Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.


    2 comments

    • FYI- All of the existing shade trees next to the Monroe Center were also cut down. Yes, the mature street shade trees will be replaced by saplings of what PSE&G is calling “utility friendly trees” which are under story species that will never grow more than 25′ tall at full maturity. The underlying concern is that while this was a plan undoubtedly was set many months ago PSE&G and the City was not open, honest and transparent with the public. The first time the public knew what was being done was after the chain saws, chippers and grinders had had cut down the street shade trees. That has to change.

      Reply
    • As the PSE&G gets closer to opening it’s new substation next to ShopRite on Monroe Street the residents should be brought into the planning of the future of the Second Street substation property that will soon be deeded the the City of Hoboken.

      Reply

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