If it weren’t for its trees, Stuyvesant Town would be exactly the cold, brutal, massive block housing its early detractors said it was, or, as Lewis Mumford put it, “the architecture of the police state.” The trees transform the oppressive regimented uniformity of the 110 buildings into a back drop to a veritable forest. Trees make this place work the way it’s supposed to. So why the insouciant attitude to what is a vital component of this complex?
More surprises: When I returned home last night at about 10pm, I was not happy to see construction of a ramp had begun not on the cleared side where the first tree was, but on the side with the remaining tree. Does that mean the second tree is going to come down as well? It’s downright bizarre.
And what of the wildlife, another virtue of Stuyvesant Town’s environment? Not having witnessed the tree downing myself, were there any arrangements made to relocate the wildlife that made the tree home? Whether you like squirrels or not, see them a cute critters or rats with tails, they are sentient beings deserving of humane treatment. Or did convenience interfere with listening to our better nature?
With Blackstone’s recent purchase of the complex there has been much fanfare about improving communication with tenants. On late afternoon of Tuesday, 14 June, Stuyvesant Town management sent an email informing tenants of my building that the construction of a ramp would begin in the front and in order to do so a tree must be taken down. Yesterday, when I came home from work, the tree was already gone. Clearly management wanted to be able to say they communicated with tenants while at the same time didn’t want to “inform” them with enough notice so that any kind of response could be gathered. It would have been more honest if they’d made no announcement at all.
The tree in question was a perfectly healthy tree over fifty years old. Two saplings now stand precariously in its place. Why? Because a cost-benefit analysis rendered the fifty year old tree expendable? A ramp already existed, so why a new one? And if you had to building a new one, why couldn’t the ramp be built in the back of the building (we do have elevators don’t we?) where the sacrifice of a tree for savings and convenience would not have been necessary? Why no discussion with the tenants if management’s claims of wanting to maintain communication with tenants are sincere? Why?