Man stumps for withering tree's removal

November 27, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- An old tree is dying and in danger of falling.

THE BACKSTORY -- James Brooks said the tree in front of his house in the 2500 block of Riggs Ave. is about a half-century old, has split and appears to be pulling away from its roots.

He said he and family members have contacted the city several times. "We are fearful that it may fall on the cars that are parked on the street," they said in an e-mail to Watchdog. Brooks lives in Rosemont, next to Calverton Middle School.

"Not only is it hazardous for the community, it presents a very dreadful appearance," the e-mail said.

Brooks said in an interview that a city inspector came out in April, agreed that the tree needs to be cut down and said the city would take care of it immediately.

"Well, what is the definition of `immediately'?" Brooks said. "We have made more calls to the city, and, again, no one is paying us any attention."

The day after Watchdog called the city's Department of Recreation and Parks, which oversees the forestry division, an inspector visited Brooks' street and posted a white sign on the tree noting that it was indeed either dead or dying and should be cut down.

Residents were given until this past Sunday to comment, after which time "the tree will be removed in approximately one to two weeks," said Kia McLeod, a spokeswoman for the Recreation and Parks Department.

Brooks said he and other family members had contacted the city repeatedly about the tree but don't remember whether they used the city's 311 nonemergency number. He also said in his e-mail: "It has been reported in a community meeting that several neighbors have tried to get the city to come out to no avail."

McLeod said there is no record of a 311 call about the tree. Calling the 311 line, the spokeswoman said, generates an identification number so that officials can track how the complaint was dealt with.

"Our goal is to respond to citizens' requests in a timely fashion and to continue to review the system to ensure that it is working properly," McLeod said.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Rebecca Feldberg, the city arborist, 410-396-6109.

UPDATE

Two weeks ago, Watchdog reported on motorists illegally parking in front of the Baltimore police headquarters building at 601 E. Fayette St. Most of the people parking there were off-duty police officers.

Sterling Clifford, a police spokesman, said that illegal parking has been curtailed not only in front of headquarters but in other spots downtown. He said memos have been distributed from the police commissioner and deputy commissioner reminding officers "to be aware of where they park and to have a regard for neighborhoods."

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