Chained no more: Woman's fight to save beloved tree over as village chops it down

A beloved tree was chopped down Monday in Westbury after a passionate woman had chained herself to it in hope of saving it.

News 12 Staff

May 2, 2022, 5:24 PM

Updated 749 days ago

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A beloved tree was chopped down Monday in Westbury after a passionate woman had chained herself to it in hope of saving it.
Denise Casares says the 80-year-old tree has been in her family for four generations and has been with her through some very dark times.
Two weeks ago, Casares chained herself to the tree in protest to it being cut down as part of a paving project on Ellis Avenue.
The Village of Westbury decided at 7 a.m. that the tree needed to come down to complete the necessary road project without further delay.
The village says the tree and others nearby needed to be cut down because the roots were sticking out a few inches over the curb and they couldn't do the repaving.
Casares says she was going to serve the village Monday morning with a lawsuit and temporary restraining order to save the tree.
However, the village contractor showed up and she was beside herself.
Casares parked her car in front of the tree – where workers contractors threatened to have it towed.
Then Casares tried to stand next to the tree and police told her she would be arrested if she did not move away.
Mayor Peter Cavallero says he tried to work with Casares even after an engineer determined that cutting the root near the curb would compromise the tree.
The village said if the tree fell she would be liable and have to also pay for a catch basin because there was ponding around the tree.
She was given until 5 p.m. Friday to make a decision, but the mayor says they never heard from her and that's why they cut down the tree on Monday.
"I was not going to wait any longer and have the project delayed anymore," Cavallero says. "We have a lot of other roads that have to be done this year so we need the project completed timely and I'm also not going to subject the village to a frivolous lawsuit that might've been brought."
Casares says she was only given two days to make a decision and that wasn't enough time.
She says she sent them a cease-and-desist letter over the weekend and offered to pay to have everything repaired.
"My tree is gone, it's been there forever. It's gone, and they did it like it was nothing," says Casares.
The mayor says the village's actions were legal, appropriate and necessary.
They plan on planting several trees at the location.


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