BA Residents Upset With Tree Clearing

Friday, December 12th 2008, 5:15 pm
By: News On 6

By Richard Clark and Scott Thompson, News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- A Broken Arrow homeowner says the city has done more damage to the trees near his home, than last year's ice storm did.

The city says it's just trying to protect its citizens from another natural disaster.  But the homeowner says that doesn't explain what happened.

"It was impossible to see that far back and you can see they removed everything but a few trees that are left," said Frank Piacenti.

Piacenti is a Brooklyn native who was transplanted to Oklahoma by the U.S. Navy years ago.  He says he's not the only one who's upset with the city of Broken Arrow.

"Most of the neighbors and the neighborhood association are pretty appalled by the actions they took and I just believe that it's one of these deals where instead of fixing the small problem, let's just remove the entire problem," said Piacenti.

The small problem, he says, was damage left by the ice storm, high up in the trees in the green space next to his home. Instead of removing the limbs, a city crew bulldozed the trees and the underbrush.

The city says it had a good reason.

"What we're doing is basically going throughout the city and targeting certain areas we know are flood-prone," said Keith Sterling, City of Broken Arrow.

The spokesman for Broken Arrow says city crews are clearing brush from creeks like the one next to Piacenti's house.  In some cases, he says the crews have to clear a path so they can get to the creek beds, but taking out trees is a last resort.

"We certainly understand why residents want to keep some greenery behind their home.  Absolutely understand that, but at the same time safety is our top concern.  And if we have flooding issues out there and there's too much brush blocking the water, that's going to create a nightmare problem," said Sterling.

Piacenti understands the need to prevent flooding.  But he says that doesn't explain why the crew didn't actually clear the creek bed, or why the crew also bulldozed the land behind his house.

Now he's less interested in finding out why the city did it, than he is in learning how the city's going to fix it.

"You know it's like buying oceanfront property and then having someone coming by and saying 'Hey, we're going to take away the ocean,'" said Piacenti.

Piacenti says neighbors have told him the creek has never flooded in the 30 years they've lived there.

He says the mayor has promised him to halt the bulldozing, until the mayor can figure out what's happening.