7 on your Side: Stay of execution for 100-year-old tree

SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey (WABC) -- A community in New Jersey is at odds over what to with a giant 100-year-old tree.

The town cut down several trees bordering a baseball and soccer field and set their sights on the old oak until one resident asked to spare it.

One resident cried foul - after all, the tree has been there for five decades peacefully coexisting with baseball and other sports played in her shade, questioning why it is now targeted for termination.

"The chopping started about a month ago, " says Carly Kennedy.

The majestic, healthy 100-year-old tree is scheduled to be on the chopping block for the township's chainsaws to take down.

The Pin Oak, steps from Kennedy's backyard, has stood for generations and is 325 feet from home plate. Township leaders don't recall there ever being an injury.

"The trees and baseball have co-existed for over 50 years. There have been no incidents. There is some potential maybe for a ball to hit this tree, but there is no potential for a kid to hit this tree - they are not positioned anywhere near the tree while they are playing," Kennedy says.

Suddenly, last summer for the first time, a town council member called out its insurer to the field to find out if the trees in deep center posed a hazard to the ballplayers. The insurer labeled several trees a 'potentially dangerous situation,' and days later the DPW took the chainsaws. After the DPW chopped sown the maple, that is when 7 on your Side got the call from Kennedy.

7 on your Side started surveying the situation, and contacted the leading field safety experts at the state and federal level, posing the question 'why not put a fence up in front of the tree?'

The top national school safety director agreed, saying, "They can build the fence in front of the tree to make it work, so you do not need to cut it down."

7 on your Side sent their recommendation to the town, and on the day the Springfield DPW was in the process of cutting down another tree, a large ash tree, 7 on your Side asked for the work to stop, and it did. That was a huge relief to Kennedy and her family.

"I very much care about the safety of children, and I care about baseball, but you can care about baseball and love trees and care about the importance of trees at the same time," she said.

Springfield Mayor Erica DuBois said in a written statement that safety is their 'number one concern.' Next up, they will sit down with an insurance provider and any agencies that oversee high school athletics to make a decision.

If it is determined the tree can safely remain in place, it will remain. If the tree needs to e removed, there will be a plan to replace it with multiple trees in a safer location.

Mayor DuBois did not give a timeline on when this would happen, but added 'we are not taking this decision lightly.'
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