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Totalling Verona’s Tree Damage


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Many of the Calllery Pears planted in the last decade shattered.

Some 5,000 trees line the streets of Verona. Thousands more fill our yards, parks and open spaces. Trees are such an integral part of our landscape that many of our streets have been named for them: Woodland, Elmwood, Beechwood, Oakridge Road, Oak Lane,  Chestnut and the longest of them all, Linden Avenue. And while the human inhabitants of Verona finally recover from the pre-Halloween snowstorm, many of our trees never will.

Perhaps as much as 25% of Verona’s street trees were damaged or destroyed by the storm, a staggering number considering that Verona only usually replaces 30 or 40 trees in any given year. “Usually, when there is a storm, we give the tree company a specific address and say go fix this tree or that,” says Bob Prout, a member of Verona’s Shade Tree Commission. “Now they have to just go down an entire street. In three decades on the commission, I’ve never seen damage this bad.”

Anyone who has walked the streets has seen it: Piles of branches six feet deep at the curbs, with more still stuck in the overhead canopy or backyards. The storm took out some of the towns youngest trees, and some of its oldest, like the giant oak that toppled onto a house on Beach Road. The storm touched every kind of tree, though some species were particularly devastated. On Brentwood Drive in the Laning district, 80% of the callery pears have been shattered like toothpicks.

Workers from Verona’s Public Works and Buildings & Grounds departments have begun to clear away the damage, using frontloaders to fill dumpster after dumpster. The truckloads have been taken to the side parking lot at Verona Pool for temporary storage until the town can work out a plan to grind the debris down. While no one knows yet how much all that will cost, one thing is very clear–Verona’s meager shade tree budget isn’t going to cover the clean up, or what comes next.

The annual municipal budget includes about $100,000, which must stretch to cover tree maintenance and replacement. “We have been wanting to prune Newman and Linden and Cliff for a while but we haven’t had it in the budget,” says Prout. Caputo Brothers had begun work on the trees on Newman before the storm, but even if that work had been completed, it might not have spared the trees from damage. Seven inches of heavy, wet snow fell on trees that still had the bulk of their leaves. It caught in the branches and proved too much to bear.

According to Bob Dickison, the current chairman of the Shade Tree Commission and another long-serving member, the commission’s first job will be to take inventory of the devastation. Several years back, with the help of the Boy Scouts, it did a complete inventory of all the street trees. Dickison is now working out a plan to update that inventory with photos and damage assessments, perhaps with help from the Verona Environmental Commission or Public Works.

And then, only then, can we begin to total up what it will take to get our streets back to normal. Verona has gotten grants over the years to plant and maintain trees, but in the current economic environment, grants may be hard to come by. Prout says that, although Shade Tree is an independent body in town government, it will abide by whatever the Town Council decides on the budget.

“You have to decide what your priorities are at this point,” he says. “A lot of real estate prices are tied to our pretty tree-lined streets. If we allow that to disintegrate, we will suffer as well.”

Loading broken branches into a dumpster.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


  1. We were told by the tree specialist that the giant oak tree on our front yard has to go, it’s considered a hazard due to all the damage.


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