Earlier this week, Hoboken residents were surprised to see the scale of tree removal on Madison and Jackson Streets as PSEG made way for a citywide utility upgrade.
Back on March 12, the utility company advised its customers via email that it had worked with the City of Hoboken and Quanika Stover, Hoboken’s Urban Forestry Coordinator to identify, “potentially hazardous trees that could be saved but are in need of pruning. There are also trees that will need to be removed and replaced because the health of the tree is in decline and the trimming would be too severe.”
That pruning took place over the past week, leaving barren swathes along the back end of town.
“31 trees were removed,” said PSEG Spokesperson Richard Dwyer. “However, the selected trees would have either died after pruning, were identified as hazards, were already in a state of poor health, dying or dead, or were in direct conflict with utility infrastructure.”
The utility infrastructure is part of PSEG’s 69kV substation project, which has been touted as addressing modernization, increasing demand, reliability, and storm preparedness of electrical infrastructure in Hoboken.
“PSE&G has committed to investing an unprecedented $318.6 million to upgrade the City’s energy systems, with modernization and consolidation of the Marshall and Madison Street substations,” said Hoboken Spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri. “These investments also include flood risk reduction measures to the 16th St. Substation and high pressure natural gas infrastructure in Hoboken. While the City is appreciative of PSE&G’s efforts towards flood risk reduction, it is committed to working with PSE&G and residents to address quality of life issues both during and after construction.”
Hoboken’s Shade Tree Commission was established to, “help develop, promote, sustain and regulate an effective and safe shade tree program that benefits Hoboken’s trees and consequently benefits the environmental, economic and social well being of City residents.”
With such a significant loss of tree cover on those blocks, PSEG maintains that it has, “been planting replacement trees since May 28, and will conclude the spring planting during the week of June 10, 2019 (weather permitting),” said Dwyer.
“In every case where a tree has been removed, a tree will be replanted, unless in direct conflict with utility infrastructure. For areas with utility conflicts, new trees will be planted in close proximity,” he added. “These new trees will be utility-friendly and of different varieties that will increase biodiversity, improve the urban tree canopy, and reduce heat-islands (or hot spots) on sidewalks. Utility-friendly trees are those that will not interfere with electric lines, helping to ensure safe, reliable electric service.”
Once in the ground, the care and maintenance of those trees is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, according to Hoboken City Code (Chapter 136).
“PSEG will distribute letters regarding tree maintenance to property owners adjacent to newly planted trees,” said Dwyer. “This includes suggested watering rates that can be found on the link www.hobokennj.gov/trees.”
***UPDATE: Wednesday, June 12 @ 10:38 a.m.— new trees planted in front of Monroe Center***
— hMAG (@hMAG) June 12, 2019