Sunday, September 18, 2011
Still no clues about Hillside Avenue arboricide
From the Wall Street Journal:
In Floral Park, the tree-cutting episode has exposed racial tensions in a community that has developed into a "Little India," with an influx of Indian immigrants and businesses shaking up the old order.
The block where the incident took place includes Masala 2 Wok, Mumbai Xpress, an Indian astrologer and the forthcoming Balaji Super Bazar.
On the aptly named "Queens Crap" blog, comments quickly devolved into blaming "animals" who want "nothing to do with America."
The underlying assumption among some was that the owners of the new supermarket must have had something to do with it. The trees blocked the store's façade and a fourth tree on the block was conspicuously left standing.
As the scene this week, I asked Mr. Castellano if anyone had spoken to the grocery store's owner. He had not.
But minutes later, out came Rakesh Kumar, the owner, hand extended and eager to talk. Mr. Kumar called the tree cutting "very bad." He said his landlord had also condemned the act.
"People are pointing fingers at us," said Mr. Kumar. "First day it happened I said, 'It's a small tree first of all and it doesn't bother us.'"
He continued: "We know the rules and regulations of this country," noting that if they wanted to take the tree down they know they would have had to get city approval. He is now offering to plant new trees and to pay all the associated costs.
"According to our custom, we worship the trees," he said.
Mr. Kumar has his own theory about what might have happened. "We have a lot of competitors around here, our supermarket competitors," he said, rattling off the names of nearby Indian supermarkets.
And so the speculation continues.
Like so many arborcides, the Floral Park ones may never be solved.