BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Bernards Township officials gave approval on Tuesday night to put notice of a fundraiser for private property on the Bernards Township website - but only because the cause is for what Deputy Mayor John Carpenter called an "extraordinary" circumstance.
Township Administrator Bruce McArthur passed along a request from the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church to put notice on the website of an upcoming fundraiser to raise money in order to remove and commemorate the 600-year-old white oak tree in the churchyard in the center of Basking Ridge. Experts and church officials agreed the historic tree had died by the end of this summer.
The church also asked that the township send out a blast, McArthur said, adding he did not yet know when the fundraiser is planned. However, he said the fundraiser would be held at the Hillside location of a high-end wood furniture maker, which is identified online as Pollaro Custom Furniture.
McArthur said he understands the plan now is to have the tree removed during the scheduled break in Bernards schools late in April.
Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said she would support placing information about the fundraiser "because it's [for] the oak tree...the iconic symbol of our town."
The Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church held a communitywide "memorial" for the tree in November that attracted hundreds of people and filled two halls within the church. Attendees then filed out to hear further homage to the tree that has presided over the center of Basking Ridge before there was a town.
The Historical Society of Somerset Hills has also set up a GoFundMe page to help the church defray the cost of removing and preserving some of the tree. The webpage notes that, "This historic oak tree is a community icon and is our community’s responsibility to support the tree that has given so much to all of us over the past 600 years."