EGG HARBOR CITY — One of the 30 old street trees being cut down on Cincinnati Avenue, in preparation for a new sidewalk and street-paving project, fell Monday onto the home of a woman who had tried to save the trees.

The Sycamore had been trimmed, but still had several main trunks when Schairer’s Tree Service cut it at the base at about 4 p.m.

“Paul (Schairer) said he had it rigged up and it just rolled,” said City Engineer Ryan A. McGowan, of Remington, Vernick & Walberg Engineers in Pleasantville.

The tree, trimmed to about 20 feet in height, hit the front of Chrissy Cavileer’s bungalow style home. It broke most of the glass in the windows on her enclosed front porch, cracked her foundation and damaged her siding, gutters and concrete walkway.

Luckily no one was hurt, even though documentary filmmaker Connie Bottinelli, of Grinning Dog Pictures in Fort Myers, Fl., was filming the cutting of the tree from inisde Cavileer’s porch when the tree fell. She was in South Jersey and decided to document the removal of the trees and its impact on the neighborhood.

“The glass shattered but didn’t hit me. I’m fine,” she said. “It fell in slow motion towards me. I said, ‘It’s coming in here.’

“They had been meticulous with their work,” Bottinelli said of Schairer, slowly removing sections of trees. “I don’t know why they decided to take that one (with so many branches still on).”

Paul Schairer, owner of the tree service, said he had treated the tree differently than others because Cavileer told him she didn't want any branches brought down onto her lawn. So he didn't trim as many off as he normally would have, he said.

“We did our best. We had two lines attached (from the tree to a machine in the street) but I think the tree rolled,” he said. “Instead of pulling towards the machine, it rolled sideways toward the home.”

He said he believed the damage was cosmetic, not structural.

Homeowner Cavileer had attended the last City Council meeting with neighbor Dolores Schorr to ask that officials not cut down all the old trees on the block. Failing that, she asked that they reconsider a ban on the planting of new trees in the 10-foot planting strips along the street.

Council told them that it would consider allowing residents to replant trees. It told Schorr she could keep her two Japanese Zelkova trees she and boyfriend Martin Vergata had planted about five years ago in the planting strip. Previously it was going to remove those as well, even though the couple had spent $500 on them. They are only about 15 feet tall and are recommended smaller street trees for urban settings.

Daycare provider Cindy Dagrosa has run The Kids Place daycare for 30 years at 546 Cincinnati Ave., next to the Cavileer home. She said she closed last Friday when the tree service was removing the largest branches from the four large tulip poplars in front of her building, just in case of an accident.

She is asking the city to remove the trunks of two of the trees closest to her building, still at least 30 feet in height, on a Saturday when her business is closed. She said a branch did fall onto her porch roof last week, but the tree service immediately fixed the hole in the roof it created.

Cavileer’s daughter Amanda, 20, was working at The Kids Place when the tree fell Monday.

“I was playing, ‘Red Light, Green Light’ with the kids and they said, ‘Did you hear that?’“ she said of police sirens.

She went to her home and convinced the Fire Department to let her in to check on her three dogs, three cats and a rabbit. They were all fine, she said.

Her father, Kenny, arrived home just after the tree fell, as did her mother.

“This is what I get for opening my mouth,” Chrissy Cavileer joked. “I can’t even get in the house to change for work.”

It took about two hours for Schairer’s to take the tree off Cavileer’s house in sections. A couple of branches had dug into her concrete walkway, cracking it and leaving holes in it much worse than any damage tree roots had done to sidewalks on the street.

City Council had said it was removing all the trees because tree roots were damaging curbing and sidewalks, but there was little evidence of that on sidewalks anywhere other than in front of the daycare center.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219