Pawling tree saved from toilet construction

Seven On Your Side
February 1, 2013 2:59:55 PM PST
There's a follow up to a story Eyewitness News shared with you about the fight in one northern suburb to save a tree.

It's not just any tree, it's a Rock Center-sized spruce, smack in the middle of the Dutchess County Village of Pawling.

The mayor wanted to chop it down to install public restrooms.

But after some outraged residents called 7 On Your Side, something drastic happened.

A surprise decision shocked advocates of saving the tree, they didn't think the mayor would do it, but he did.

What a difference seven days makes, a week ago the Mayor of the Village of Pawling told 7 On Your Side in an interview, he had pretty much made up his mind about the 45-foot spruce towering over the town.

"Are they powerless to stop it?" Nina Pineda asked last week.

"Pretty much, but I'll listen," Pawling Mayor Robert Liffland said.

Every Christmas, the spruce is the star of Pawling's tree lighting ceremony.

But the mayor wanted to take down the tree and put in a potty, four public potties to be exact, paid for by grant money awarded by the county.

He said it was to boost economic growth.

"We looked at the area and thought it would be the perfect spot," Mayor Liffland said.

"I said really, I couldn't believe that could possibly be true, why would anyone do that?" said Joan Roberts, a Pawling resident.

So this 15-year resident started a campaign, started petitions, went on social media, and she called 7 On Your Side.

Even the kids took a stand, speaking out to protect the pine.

"I'd be very upset if they cut down the tree thousands love and put bathrooms there," said Jacob Voudren, a fifth grader.

Their outcry prompted a surprise decision by the mayor.

He didn't want to be interviewed, but released a statement, "In light of the concerns raised by a number of residents, the Village has decided not to cut down the 'Christmas Tree' next to the Chamber of Commerce building and to explore other options for public restrooms."

"I guess you guys feel like you beat City Hall," Pineda said.

"With your help!" Roberts said.

"Yes, with your help and the papers' we absolutely showed the kids it's important to stand up for what you believe in," said Rob Reilly, a Pawling resident.

And the kids had a special thank you as well.

"Thanks 7 On Your Side for saving our tree," the kids cheered.



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