Local Whitemarsh residents have taken to Change.org in an attempt to save two large mature Dawn Redwood trees. The concern arises from the proposed removal of the two trees in question to make room for the new Heroes' Ground Monument which has been in the works for years.
Concerned residents requested the township to reconsider the removal of the trees by either redesigning the monument to include the trees in their current state or by moving the monument to a more secluded location away from traffic. Residents have cited these mature trees are doing their part to remove air pollution and replanting younger trees will decrease the effectiveness for years to come. These requests have fallen on deaf ears and the township has moved forward with the planned removal.
The petition was started by Eli Glick, a Whitemarsh resident, and devout environmentalist. Eli is a well-known advocate in the Whitemarsh area, Eli ran an independent campaign for Whitemarsh Supervisor in 2019 but remains active in the community. Glick, who responded to our request for comment, added, "First and foremost, the purpose of the petition on Change.org is to give voice to resident opposition that informs the Board of Supervisors’ decision to construct a Heroes Ground Monument on the corner of Germantown and Joshua. The current design permits the destruction of several mature, healthy trees, including the two iconic Dawn Redwoods on that corner. There was no reason to collect funds, so I apologize if the change.org ads were misrepresenting the purpose. Further, I was hoping for signatures and comments only from current community members. The social media buzz revealed many residents are not in favor of the project. Many of the objectors are veterans and members of veterans’ families. Veterans deserve to be honored. The text of the petition is clear. The signers want the trees protected and offer a number of suggestions on better ways to proceed with the project. While I understand that the Monument project has taken 5 to 6 years of planning, in my view, the township leadership were obliged to request more robust participation by the public in choosing the site location and the design of the project. After all, Miles Park is public land. Another major issue is that, at the onset of the project, at a public meeting, promises were made that no trees would be disturbed. The tree removal is a relatively new proposal that came before the Township within the prior year. I know that there will always be varied opinions on what the monument should look like and where it should be. I am asking that veterans be honored in Whitemarsh in a way that is inclusive of its residents and protects the environment. I think we can do both".
We reached out to Whitemarsh Township Manager Richard Mellor for comment and have not heard back as of yet. We will update this story if we do.
You can sign the petition here.
[Update 01/09/2020] A social media post, claiming to be a direct response from the "Whitemarsh Monument Committee"* but not yet been verified for accuracy appeared on a local Facebook group rebutting the position of this petition. "The petition, circulated by Eli Glick, does not accurately depict the situation with Heroes' Ground in Miles Park. In 2011, we created a grassroots group to remember our fallen military because Whitemarsh, unlike our neighbors, does not have a place for our community to gather on Memorial Day. Building Heroes’ Ground at the corner of Germantown Pike and Joshua Road in Miles Park was chosen after careful consultation with local veterans and the Township.
Veterans requested a meaningful and prominent location in the center of our Township. In our discussions, they stated that building a monument, which is tucked away and difficult to locate, is offensive. They also asked for a monument, not a memorial, so that all active duty military, veterans and their families are honored and remembered at this important gathering place.
A committee has been working with the Board of Supervisors and Township Committees, and Engineering for over six (6) years on this project. The plans have been discussed during numerous public meetings throughout the years. The plans were already changed to downsize the plaza through entitlement process.
Originally, the professional landscape planners stated that the two trees could be integrated into the design. The trees being removed were identified by the Township Arborist to be replaced and be in harmony with the monument for years to come for all residents.
Unfortunately, even with our design alterations, the trees will not survive. The trees being removed were identified by the Township Arborist to be replaced and be in harmony with the monument for years to come for all residents There will be additional trees will be planted along Joshua Road, providing a greater canopy of healthy trees than what currently exists. The committee has agreed to work with the Township and Shade Tree Committee to identify replacement trees.
This project will beautify this central location and provide better access to Miles Park. As your neighbors, we look forward to honoring our heroes and gathering with you in this meaningful space."
Whitemarsh residents are encouraged to sign the petition, however, anyone is welcome to sign.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Dawn Redwood Trees are "an ancient tree that knew the dinosaurs but is well-suited to modern landscape plantings. Dawn Redwood is a deciduous conifer producing small, round 1/2" to 1" cones. It has a neat pyramidal shape in youth, maturing into a more rounded crown. The bright green, feathery leaves turn orange-brown or reddish-brown in the fall. Fast-growing and easily transplanted. Likes full sun and prefers moist, deep, well-drained soils. One of the fastest-growing trees available. Grows to 70'–100', with a 25' spread."
*Footnote: according to our search, there is a 501(c)(3) organization called "The Veterans Monument Foundation of Whitemarsh." There is no way to contact this group, if you are a member or leader of this group and would like to contact us, please email email@example.com.
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