Cleveland Park Tree Illegally Chopped Down

Posted at 6:33 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 20:36:59-04

Neighbors in the Cleveland Park area have banded together, looking for answers after a tree in Cleveland Park was chopped down and another one was damaged. 

According to neighbors, a tree near the corner of Evanston Avenue and North 8th Street was chopped down sometime during the day on Friday, June 16.

One neighbor, Ricky Wilmoth, walked his dog past the tree Friday morning and saw nothing wrong with the tree, but on Saturday, he found that that tree was on the ground, sawn into pieces.

"I went to Facebook for our community page and asked, 'Hey, what's going on? Does anyone know about this?' that's when we started piecing together the timeline," Wilmoth explained. 

Neighbors came to the conclusion that the tree was cut down during the day on Friday. 

"This was one of our very few old growth trees that we actually had in the park," said Chris Williams, who lives just up the street from the park.

He added that he had a lot of great memories surrounding that specific tree and one next to it that was also damaged, but not chopped down.

"My 4-year-old son and I have picnics under these two trees. My family comes up from Georgia every 4th of July and we sit here with the view of downtown and watch the fireworks, and the last 2 years it's been a little rainy on the 4th, so we sat under these trees.," said Williams.

Neighbors initially thought that the tree could have been chopped down by Metro Parks, as it's on city property in a Metro park, but Metro Parks said they didn't chop down the tree and no plans to.

They added that they had no idea who decided to chop down the tree, a tree that belonged to the public. 

"This wasn't their tree, this was my tree. This was my son's tree. This is my neighbor's tree," Williams said. 

Metro Parks went out to the scene to investigate, asking neighbors and the labor force working on two houses right next to the tree if they saw anything, but none of those asked had any answers about the tree, or the tree next to it. 

"We can only look around and think, 'I wonder who would benefit from this? what would the reason be for an individual to just pull in and do this?" Omid Yamini, a neighbor, questioned, adding that he's seen the neighborhood change a lot over the years, with trees being chopped down to make way for development and views, but never on public land. "Whoever was responsible needs to take responsibility and be held accountable for this." 

A representative from Metro Parks said they are considering launching an official investigation into the tree crime, and they are also considering replacing the tree that was chopped down, and eventually, the tree that was damaged. 

Anyone with information on who damaged the tree was encouraged to reach out to Metro Parks.