Fate of Historic Elm Tree in Question

By Katherine Massopust—

PERTH AMBOY — When Superstorm Sandy hit Perth Amboy, a portion of City Hall’s roof fell on the historic elm causing one limb of the tree to fall off. Public Works saw that part of the limb was hollowed out, which gave reason to start an investigation of the tree’s overall health.

Tree expert Gary Lovello, owner of Chestnut Arboricultural & Forestry Services in Old Bridge stated that the tree “Could be saved and should be saved due to the historical significance of the tree.”

The City of Perth Amboy tree trimmer and Frank Hoffman of the Department of Public Works also looked at the tree. As of now, it was determined that one limb of the tree needs to come off. It is hollowed out and has a raccoon living in it.

City Councilman Kenneth Gonzalez stated, “If we could save the tree, we will as long as it does not pose any risk to public safety.”

City Historian Anton J. Massopust states the importance of the historical significance of the tree, “The tree has seen a lot and has a lot of uniqueness to its age. It is one of the oldest if not the oldest English Elm tree in the state of New Jersey. Just one of those facts should make it worth saving.”

“We have already knocked down a lot of Perth Amboy’s history,” Massopust continued, “And those of us who appreciate history still regret it: Parker Castle, the Inness House, the Old Roundhouse to the Lehigh Valley Railroad. Because of diligence of the historical community we were able to save the Kearny Cottage, the Proprietary House and the Ferry Slip – and they are still standing! But this was not without due diligence.”

Councilman Kenneth Gonzalez states that it was recommended to put a fence around the base of the tree to prevent people from stepping on the tree’s roots. “Let’s see how the tree blooms in the spring. That will help determine how healthy the tree is.”

The City is also planning on leveling out the area with the tall grass in front of City Hall. “There should be plenty of walkway,” Gonzalez states.

Presently no decision has been made on the fate of the historic elm tree. Mayor Diaz and administrators are meeting with Lovello to determine what needs to be done.

“As of now no decision has been made,” Gonzalez states. The discussion of the fate of the historic elm has been tabled to the February 13, 2013 Council Meeting.

“They are not going to chop down the tree unless they have to,” Massopust states, “That’s all a City Historian can ask for. I can’t ask for more than that.”

The historic English elm tree in front of City Hall is almost 200 years old.   
*Photos by Paul W. Wang

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