Back in September, the neighbors and I thought it might be nice to have a tree planted outside our building. You see, virtually every other building on the block has a tree in front of it. Ours was the only bare spot on the block. So, I filled out an application, which very explicitly explained the conditions that would prohibit planting: trees must be at least twenty feet apart, and plantings can not interfere with the underground gas and water lines. That was it. Simple, straightforward, and sensibile. I got a consesus of what kind of tree we would like, and I cut a check and mailed the completed application in before it’s October 1 deadline. As the winter loomed, we waited.
About two weeks ago, I got out of the shower and was greeted with the sound of heavy demolition. I looked out my window to see two construction workers taking a circular saw to the sidewalk in front of our building. At long last, our treehole was being carved out!
A week later, I was again getting out the shower and the phone was ringing. I answered it to hear a Jersey City Parks Department employee on the other end. She told me that because of the placement of gas and water lines, they would be unable to plant a tree for our building.
Staring down from my window to the three-foot crater just beyond my front door, I asked, “Did the men who work on this think of that before they tore a hole in my sidewalk?”
There was a beat of silence. “That will be replaced.”
“And the $100 check I sent you over two months ago?” I continued.
Another beat. “We will refund you the money.”
I thanked the woman, hung up, and put some pants on.
So, sadly, we continue to be an arboreal blight on the neighborhood. Come springtime, hopefully we’ll get some planters for the steps and windowsills. And maybe by then our own private pothole will be filled. If it took them three months to dig it, who knows how long it will take to fill.