Tree-cutting stumps Canton Neighbors miffed at Pratt's blunder

June 04, 1993|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

On May 22, Canton neighbors spent a long, sweaty afternoon and $150 of their own money to save a pair of overturned evergreens alongside their branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

On Tuesday , the city cut the trees down, acting on a month-old work order from Pratt facilities director Edward Bogier.

The neighbors are livid.

The city forestry department -- which leveled a pair of obviously repaired trees -- says it simply followed a routine request to get rid of fallen trees.

And Mr. Bogier -- who said no one bothered to cancel his May 3 work order to the forestry department after he gave volunteers permission to fix the trees -- is very embarrassed.

"It just shows that sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," said Mr. Bogier, whose promise to replace the pair of 20- to 25-foot tall arborvitae has not cooled the community's anger.

"This is incredibly stupid bungling by Bogier's office," said Councilman John L. Cain, a 1st District Democrat who represents Canton. "Without telling anybody, he put out a work order to cut the suckers down."

Jean M. Albrent, president of the Friends of the Canton Library group, said the leveling of "beautiful, upright" trees, is symbolic of her group's difficulty in forming a "partnership" with the Pratt. Such partnerships are envisioned citywide by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke in hard economic times.

"Pratt has more problems than anyone is aware of, like people not talking to one another," said Ms. Albrent. "We thought we had the bureaucracy licked. We made an offer, and [the Pratt] took us up on it. We brought in a group of experienced volunteers. And the bureaucracy comes around and stabs us in the back."

According to city tree inspector Marion Bedingfield, on May 3 Annetta Horn -- Mr. Bogier's secretary -- called the forestry department to say two trees were down at Pratt branch No. 4 in Canton.

"Mrs. Horn went out with one of our inspectors, and the uprooted trees were marked for removal on May 17," Mr. Bedingfield said.

Ms. Albrent said that a May 6 letter to Mr. Bogier asking for permission to fix the trees gave him a two-week deadline to respond.

"In the past, we had had difficulty getting him to return our phone calls," Ms. Albrent said. "We told him we would proceed on our own if he didn't get back to us."

On May 14, Ms. Albrent said, Ms. Horn called to say that Mr. Bogier had accepted the community's offer to fix the trees. On May 22, Mrs. Horn came to Canton to watch the neighbors work. Mr. Bogier never visited the site.

"It was all bull labor," said Ms. Albrent. "We bought the rope and the wood to shore up and anchor the trees with money we raised from bake sales and membership drives. We mulched and fed the trees with vitamins. When we left, the trees were happy and they looked great."

They stood for 10 days.

Tuesday afternoon, she said, one of the volunteers was walking in the neighborhood and heard the sound of wood being ground into chips coming from the library grounds. He arrived in time to see city forestry workers feeding the briefly resurrected arborvitaes into a mulcher.

"We were left with stumps with fresh mulch around them," Ms. Albrent said.

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