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Bloom and doom: Workers saw down Corlears Hook cherry trees as poet is arrested

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Workers cut down the beautiful grove of cherry trees in Corlears Hook Park’s Cherry Hill on Monday. They had backed off Saturday in the face of protests that saw the arrest of Reverend Billy, the protesting performance-art preacher, and another park activist.

On Monday, poet Eileen Myles was also arrested while trying to block the chainsawing of the Lower East Side Park’s trees. But the workers finally succeeded in their destructive mission, felling the small forest of cherry trees.

The trees had only just recently started blooming.

The start of the destruction of East River Park and Corlears Hook Park was rammed through in the final days of Mayor de Blasio’s administration. The $1.45 billion coastal-resiliency project was overwhelmingly approved by the New York City Council, including local East Side Councilmembers Carlina Rivera and Keith Powers, as well as then-Councilmember Margaret Chin.

The city says the Corlears Hook trees had to be felled so that the Corlears Hook footbridge to East River Park could be rebuilt to support vehicles and so that new drainage could be installed.

Opponents, however, favored a previous, more low-impact resiliency plan for all of East River Park that did not require destroying the existing waterfront parkland and would have instead just created a berm along the F.D.R. Drive to contain floodwaters.

(Photo by Tommy Loeb)

Meanwhile, park defenders sadly wonder how nearby Cherry Street, along Corlears Hook Park’s north side, can even continue to be called that now that all the Cherry trees for which it was named have been cut down.

7 Comments

  1. LES3025 LES3025 April 11, 2022

    So Eileen got to make a big show of getting arrested and the city got to move forward with the resiliency project. Seems like everyone got exactly what they wanted. A rare win-win!

    • Laura Thomas Laura Thomas April 12, 2022

      Eileen did not “make a big show of getting arrested” … Eileen GOT arrested. Where were you, LES3025? And what’s YOUR name, keyboard warrior? Eileen has my profoundest respect and hats off to Eileen.

      • LES3025 LES3025 April 12, 2022

        Why would I be there? I support the project. It’s happening. There’s nothing for me to do.

        And of course Eileen made a big show of getting arrested! The whole point is to get arrested publicly in front of photographers. They did a great job and executed the plan perfectly. Hats off to Eileen, indeed!

  2. JackDog JackDog April 11, 2022

    Now that the city has approved new gambling casinos perhaps they will use cherry wood chips to replace the art deco tennis structure. Dollar Bill’s sugarhouse.

  3. JJ JJ April 12, 2022

    So sad. Tho true, our protesters made spectacle, nothing more. I grew up in the woods, and truly, we wouldn’t have cut down the trees — my parents chased the developers out of town, and their leader was my godfather. Truth. Sad to see our cement paradise getting more cement and less paradise every day.

  4. Bob Holman Bob Holman April 12, 2022

    Civil disobedience is the trigger of change. I applaud Eileen and others who got arrested, those who took the time and energy to speak out, to speak for something instead of snarking on the sidelines. The irony of cutting down these trees at the height of their blossoming beauty should not be lost on anyone.

  5. Deforestation Daniel Deforestation Daniel April 21, 2022

    They’re rebuilding the park people, not destroying it. There will literally be more trees than before. Classic New Yorkers resisting change and painting any development project as ruthless capital-driven gentrification. This isn’t the destruction of some natural old-growth forest. This is, and always was, a man-made park built on landfill that is being rebuilt to withstand future floods. The hand-wringing about nature’s destruction around this project is mind-boggling. It sucks that you wont be able to walk from your ’70s rent-stabilized apartment in Lower Manhattan to the park for the next 5 years; we alllllll feel your pain.

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