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.
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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!