Save Cherry Tree Row on Warfield Place!
Save Cherry Tree Row on Warfield Place!
The City of Northampton is planning to chop down our beautiful row of seven Japanese Kwanzan cherry trees in order to repave our street. There ARE ways to save the trees and repave, but the city refuses to look into other options and is moving forward despite residents' protests. We are asking Mayor David Narkewicz for a moratorium on this rushed, devastating plan so the neighborhood can work with the city and do the job RIGHT!
Cherry Tree Row on Warfield Place, an iconic, historic site, is under imminent threat by the city's repavement plan, which prioritizes economic efficiency over the wellbeing of citizens, neighborhoods, and the environment. The repavement plan will reduce our tree canopy by 80%, destroy neighborhood gardens, and make it harder for disabled residents to access their homes. It includes no sustainable stormwater mitigation, and the tree canopy will not be replenished for decades.
The Warfield repavement will violate the city’s own “Sustainable Northampton Plan,” which commits to “focusing on people over vehicles,” “preserving street trees and existing mature trees,” and “expanding urban shade tree canopies.” The Sustainable Northampton Plan also promises “procedural equity” and “neighborhood engagement.”
But for the residents of Warfield Place, there was no neighborhood engagement until after the plan was set. We were simply informed that the construction would happen and given no opportunity to offer meaningful input as to the scope, nature, or necessity of a repaving plan that will kill mature trees and destroy the unique character of our street.
We want a plan that prioritizes ADA accessibility, preserves the tree canopy, addresses urgent climate change concerns, and respects residents' lived experiences.
So far, the residents of our tiny street have mobilized in numerous ways:
- We organized a meeting with the Mayor, where over 50 people showed up to voice opposition to the city's plan (and no one spoke in favor!). The Mayor responded by saying that the decision had been made and nothing we did or said was going to change his mind.
- We held the First Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, with music and poetry and food, to celebrate these beautiful trees. Over 150 people came!
- We have written to the local paper and to our local councilors.
- We attended and spoke at a City Council meeting.
- We insisted on a Shade Tree Hearing (under MA law, ch. 87). The Mayor refused, telling us it "would not matter" because he had already made up his mind!
- We have met with Department of Public Works officials, who have been willing to explain their decision and listen to our concerns, but refuse to halt the demolition and repaving because they have already signed contracts and the Mayor has directed them to go forward.
The Mayor told us outright that our opinions are "based on emotion" and that "neighborhood concerns" do not matter because decisions are made using an "algorithm." This model is dehumanizing, authoritarian, and contradicts the city's own stated commitments. Other streets and neighborhoods in Northampton will surely fall victim unless we fight back!
Here are some quotes from neighborhood residents:
- I was horrified to hear of the loss of one of Northampton’s great treasures. Every year I eagerly anticipate the emergence of these blossoms.
- One of the “guiding principles” in the Sustainable Northampton Plan is: "Operate the city as a democratic enterprise that is responsive and responsible to the fiscal, economic, social, and environmental interests of its citizens.” The Warfield plan has been patently undemocratic, and the city disappointingly unresponsive.
- Like other residents, I was dismayed to learn about the proposed plan to remove the cherry trees. As others have already observed, these trees are a much-cherished presence on Warfield Place and they provide this street with valuable and increasingly necessary summer shade, with the beauty of their green canopy, gorgeous blossoms every May, and a habitat for birds and insects.
- The loss of the trees would very much constitute an impoverishment, ecologically, aesthetically, and in terms of human wellbeing.
- I know of no other street in the city with a comparable row of gorgeous blossoming trees. They are flat-out beautiful; provide temperature cooling and character to the street and are deeply beloved by the residents who live there.
Please join us in calling on Mayor David Narkewicz to honor our demand for a moratorium, to abide by the Sustainable Northampton Plan, to halt this destructive and rushed repaving project, and to work with the neighborhood in a meaningful, participatory process toward a sustainable and humane outcome that we can all be proud of.
Feel free to reach out to us with questions, ideas, or comments at email@example.com.