Trees before Grand Prix!
  • Petitioned Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

This petition was delivered to:

Mayor, City of Baltimore
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Trees before Grand Prix!

    1. David Troy
    2. Petition by

      David Troy

      Baltimore, MD

  1.  
  2.   
August 2011

Victory

Some cities invest in sprucing themselves up when they land a gig hosting a major sporting event. Not Baltimore. As the site of a Grand Prix race, the Charm City decided to actually chop trees down--up to 136 were initially slated to get the axe.

In little more than a week, more than 4,500 people signed the petition, local media extensively covered the issue, and a city judge urged the city to be more transparent about race agreements. Now, the city of Baltimore promises they are finished chopping down trees and they have released the once-secret agreement documents with race officials.

Thanks to this campaign, more than 100 trees slated for the chopping block are still standing in downtown Baltimore, and city officials will need to think twice before creating secret agreements like this one.

Everyone agrees on the benefits of trees – including the Baltimore Grand Prix race organizers (link). However, they seek to remove between 50 and 136 healthy, mature trees and replace them with "new" trees, a significant percentage of which will be in planters (for transportability for future races.)

Race organizers say that the trees need to come down in order to "improve sight lines" for race specators – presumably allowing greater attendance, and higher ticket prices.

"New" trees (which may have a 2" caliper diameter) do not provide anywhere near the benefits that a mature tree can. Furthermore, the aesthetic quality of trees in "oversize pots" is significantly lower than a mature established tree.

We believe that sacrificing established trees to increase profits for race organizers is unfair and should have been more open to public discussion and, if executed at all, done in compliance with the law.

When the subject of trees first came up last fall, race organizers used mild-mannered words like "uproot and replant," to describe their plans, but it seems that the plan all along was to clearcut. We seek to halt any new cutting, determine a new plan, and hold the Mayor and race organizers accountable to protecting our city's trees, a valuable and fundamentally irreplaceable public asset.

We assert that the removal of multiple trees on August 1 (several of which were over 40 years old and 3 feet in circumference at the base) was in violation of Article 7 of the Code of the City of Baltimore, which lists explicit protections for trees, and we will seek an immediate injunction to halt the further removal of trees until such time as a new plan can be vetted before the public, experts in the field, and the broader business community.

For more information, read this coverage from the Baltimore Sun, August 1.

This story is developing quickly, so check here for updates as well.

SPREAD THE WORD: Please "Like" our Facebook Page, and Follow us on Twitter (@treesb4prix).

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UPDATE, Saturday August 6: We filed a request for a Temporary Restraining Order yesterday with Baltimore City Circuit Court and have been granted a hearing for Monday, August 8th. We were also assured that no further trees would be cut down until the hearing, so that is some measure of temporary protection. Baltimore Racing Development, meanwhile, says they plan to cut no more trees, but that is at odds with statements they made on Monday and Tuesday, and with the plan they released Wednesday. We could not take the chance that more trees would be at risk.

Here is the full text of the injunctive Complaint, Motion for Restraining Order, the Order, and remarks we delivered at the courthouse.

THANK YOU for your support on this issue, and please continue to SIGN and SPREAD THE WORD about the petition. We need to forcefully demonstrate that Baltimoreans and Marylanders CARE about the rule of law, and about our trees!

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Troubled Founder of Grand Prix sues Baltimore Racing Development

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Steven Wehner, the convicted drug dealer, recovering crack-addict, and auto mechanic who pitched the idea for the Grand Prix to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, is suing its operators for $750K citing breach of contract.

    2. The Long Road to the Baltimore Grand Prix

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Whose idea was the Baltimore Grand Prix? Convicted crack addict and drug dealer Steven Wehner hatched the idea a few years go. Unemployed lawyer Jay Davidson agreed to help. And a new Mayor thought it could make her reputation. Read on...

    3. Received Motorsports Development Agreement

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      About 10 minutes ago I received a copy of the Motorsports Development Agreement from Baltimore City. Please review in combination with the MOU. We will aim to ensure the tree plan is fully funded; before profits or creditors. Note August 10 Amendment

    4. Requesting copy of Motorsports Development Agreement

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      In May 2010 the Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved the "Motorsports Development Agreement" between Baltimore City and Baltimore Racing Development. We were told last week it is public. We want a copy. We've requested it from the city 3 times.

    5. MOU Lacks Sufficient Protections to Ensure Implementation

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Further review of the City's Tree MOU with BRD shows that it lacks sufficient protections, such as a bond, to ensure that it will be implemented if the race is not profitable. We're seeking to amend the MOU to fix that problem.

    6. 4,500 Signatures Reached!

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you to everyone for your support! We'll be sending out some updates soon with some next steps. Meantime, please listen to 88.9 WEAA tonight at 6 for a discussion of where things stand!

    7. Will be on WEAA 88.9 tonight at 6pm with Marc Steiner

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Marc Steiner will be talking trees, the Grand Prix, the Tree Plan and the MOU from 6:00 til 6:30pm with David Troy (Trees Before Grand Prix) and Beth Strommen (Office of Sustainability, City of Baltimore). Join us for an update, and debate!

    8. Sustainability Commission, Department of Planning Agrees with our Findings

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      The City's Sustainability Commission (part of the Department of Planning) agrees with our findings that BRD should be held accountable to the "tree plan" no matter the outcome of the race.

    9. Judge tosses Grand Prix Tree clearing

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Coverage of yesterday's hearing from the Baltimore Business Journal's Alex Jackson.

    10. Reporting Deadline for Current Election is TODAY

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Odette Ramos, Otis Rolley, and Jody Landers have each lent their name and support to this initiative. Please consider making a campaign contribution to the candidates of your choice before midnight tonight. Let them know you support TreesB4Prix!

    11. Organizers: No Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit in 2011

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Here's an example of a one-then-done Grand Prix race in Detroit. Organizers say it may return if "the economy improves." We can't risk that the "tree plan" will be abandoned under a similar scenario.

    12. Nine More Trees to Come Down in front of Hilton Hotel

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Nine more trees will be removed in front of the Hilton Hotel. While City Solicitor Matthew Nayden said there were "no more trees to cut," he was talking about city trees; these trees are on "private property" - even though the city owns the hotel!

    13. City Releases Memorandum of Understanding

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      The City finally released the Memorandum of Understanding with BRD. It doesn't seem to have any significant provisions for ensuring that BRD will follow through with this obligations. We're reading...

    14. City: "No More Trees Left To Cut," Renders TRO Moot; Judge Requests MOU

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Judge Evelyn Cannon dismissed our motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, saying it was unnecessary since City Solicitor asserted "no more city trees would be cut." However, she did urge city to release Memorandum of Understanding.

    15. Judge tosses tree suit, urges city be more open

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      We've written up our own response to today's events and will post them here. We think we've saved about 100 trees: that's a good thing.

    16. Here's what we're requesting of BRD and City of Baltimore; is it enough?

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      We are heading to Baltimore City Circuit court this morning where our request for a Temporary Restraining Order will be heard. We are also keeping a list of other demands, which we will pursue upon completion of this immediate legal action. Thoughts?

    17. Reached 4,000 signatures
    18. State of Maryland also requires permits for tree removal

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Did the Maryland Stadium Authority have the required permits to remove trees on their grounds? We will be asking. Everything we know so far says this was done in the same haphazard, makeshift manner as the city tree removals.

    19. City, Baltimore Racing Development violated OSHA and State Regulations

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Gene Sweeney's photo published Tuesday by the Baltimore Sun says it all: the bush-league chainsaw operators were in such a hurry they couldn't comply with OSHA and State Safety regulations, which require head and eye protection – and long pants.

    20. We now have a Facebook Page! Please "Like" us there!

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      It's looking like we may be in for a more protracted battle here, as we not only prevent trees from being cut but hold the Mayor and City Council accountable for those which have been cut illegally. Please "Like" our Facebook page to stay in touch!

    21. Now follow us on Twitter at @treesb4prix

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      As it looks like we're in for a protracted battle with the Mayor, City Council, and Baltimore Racing Development over the illegal removal of trees which occurred, we wanted to extend our own roots. Please join us on Twitter for updates!

    22. Please BLOG and SHARE: Facebook, Twitter, Email, Google+, or Widget!

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Want to help more? Please SHARE our SHORT URL (http://chn.ge/treesb4prix) as widely and as quickly as possible. We would like to have 5,000 signatures prior to our hearing on Monday at NOON. Blog! Share via Facebook! Email friends! All of it helps!

    23. A note on conservation: "In the unnecessary destruction of one tree..."

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      Some have asked me why I took on this fight, as I'm a technology entrepreneur, not an environmental activist. But my late father in law, Colby Rucker, was a respected activist, and he would have wanted us to take this on. Here's some background.

    24. Full text of Injunction Complaint, Remarks About Filing by David Troy

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      This is the complete package of documents that was filed at Baltimore Circuit Court yesterday, including some remarks on why we filed and what we are hoping to accomplish. We wanted to share this in order to empower others to take similar actions.

    25. Hearing granted for Monday @noon; City Solicitor says no trees will be cut

      David Troy
      Petition Organizer

      After a couple of trips to the Circuit Courthouse, the Court Master granted us a hearing at noon on Monday August 8. In the meantime, the City Solicitor's office assures us that no more trees will be cut before the hearing. Success, for now!

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Craig Nazor AUSTIN, TX
      • about 3 years ago

      The race will be over in a matter of days. The mature trees that have been cut down are not replaceable. To think that they are is living in a dream world, where dollars are more important than anything else. Trees clean the air, provide shade, provide habitat for indigenous and migrating birds, and add esthetic beauty to a cityscape. What is that worth? WHO GETS TO DECIDE?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • B M BALTIMORE, MD
      • about 3 years ago

      I live in the Baltimore area. WE ARE LIVID! So far 39 trees have been cut, after a promise was made that they would stop at 31. Fortunately, we were told the original number of 140+ trees will be not be cut., and that the city plans to plant 140 trees after the race. We'll see. It is very hard to immediately replace old growth trees, though. The Baltimore community was especially angered because there was no discussion or oversight about this decision. This is wrong. We were actually planning to attend the Grand Prix, but after this tree situation, WE ARE NOT. Yes, trees are important!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Rodney C Burris BALTIMORE, MD
      • about 3 years ago

      I am all for my city being a first-class city ranked among the world's finest. And I do understand that hosting the Grand Prix is a great step in this direction. My problem, however, is with the continued focus on pumping dollars into downtown, while the rest of the city is neglected. Park Heights, for example, already hosts a major national event; dollars could've been delivered to this area for improvement.

      The list goes on...

      As a homeowner, and a parent of two cityschools students, I am disappointed that I am constantly sent the message that Baltimore = Downtown, and that 'the rest of the city can feed off the subsequent crumbs.'

      Please, Rectify.

      -Rodney C. Burris

      Elected Member, State Central Committee

      43rd District

      817 Radnor Ave

      Baltimore MD 21212

      rodneyburris@mail.com

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • L S Waters ELLICOTT CITY, MD
      • about 3 years ago

      It is shortsighted to remove trees. The trees make downtown more appealing all year. What about shade for citizens.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Robert O'Brien BALTIMORE, MD
      • about 3 years ago

      We absolutely must stop assuming that a young tree as as good as an old tree. They are NOT equivalent. Baltimore is already sorely missing healthy, mature trees in most of its neighborhoods. We must halt the cavalier destruction of old trees!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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