Dear Editor:

I am deeply upset and disturbed by the removal of numerous trees recently on the lot at the corner of Glenside Road and Route 22 in Scotch Plains. Many residents in the neighborhood, which is also my neighborhood, have approached me and asked why these trees were removed, as they had been there for as long as we could remember and provided a sound barrier from the Route 22 traffic.

The answer, provided by the state, is that ONE person complained about visibility. I am confused as to how one person’s complaint can result in the removal of dozens of trees that have been there for decades. While I acknowledge that there were some downed trees from storms in the past, I don’t know why so many had to be cut down, and the tree stumps are still on that lot as of March 1, 2020. I understand that the state is possibly changing landscaping contractors, but I implore you to provide us with trees for that lot as soon as possible, and we, the residents of Scotch Plains, will plant them ourselves.

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We do not want to have to wait until the DOT approves a new landscaping contract this fall. In Scotch Plains, we have an active Green Team that is committed to educating residents on how to incorporate more sustainable habits into daily living, and planting trees and conserving our green space (especially near highways) is near the top of the list. Not only do trees absorb the noise from the highway, but they also turn the harmful emissions from vehicles into clean air for all of us to breathe. Having the state come in and remove so many of our trees is contradictory to our mission.

In fact, I was planning to reach out to the state about providing more trees along the adjacent state property that surrounds the gas station. Additionally, we have many deer in the area that rely on the small regions of open space and now that is one less area for them to inhabit.

In the future, I hope that the state will reach out to the Township of Scotch Plains Manager Al Mirabella before infringing on such fragile space. Please advise as to when the stumps will be removed and when we can expect to receive new trees for us to plant in that area. Thank you.

Elizabeth Stamler (and other concerned residents)
Scotch Plains

Editor's Note: This letter was sent to the NJ Department of Transportation advising them of Councilwoman Stamler's (and her neighborhood’s) concern when trees were removed along Route 22. It was sent on March 2, 2020, via email to Christopher Tomlin, Executive Director of the North region, DOT.