EMERSON, N.J. — Bruce the Spruce, the beloved tree in downtown Emerson that has greeted people into the Pascack Valley for decades, was taken down Thursday morning.
The tree is a casualty of the Kinderkamack Road Shared Service Improvement Project.
It went down despite efforts by Maria Buchert and her Girl Scout Troop 6947 to save it.
“I had to leave the area,” Buchert told Daily Voice Thursday. “I couldn’t be there. It’s so depressing.”
Bruce, which was estimated to be 50 years old, was once the borough Christmas tree.
But that practice stopped due to safety, electrical, and parking issues, said Borough Administrator Robert Hoffman.
The tree, adjacent to the Emerson train station on Kinderkamack Road, is located at a busy intersection on a patch of land that is a New Jersey Transit right-of-way, he added.
Bruce had to go because it was located smack dab in the middle of where key work is being done, according to Hoffmann.
He said its presence disrupted plans involving sidewalk, drainage, traffic signal, and telephone polls.
“Last Friday the county engineers were kind enough to give me a half-hour of their time,” Hoffmann said. “We were looking at the plans to see if there were adjustments that could be made that would save the tree.”
But moving a drainage line even a few inches affects the whole drainage system, Hoffman said.
“You have to keep that pitch,” the administrator explained. “You can move the curb out slightly, too, but you’ve got to have a line of sight and you have to maintain that curve toward the railroad crossing.”
On Thursday night, Mayor Lou Lamatina posted on Facebook that, based on suggestions by posters on Emerson pages, two benches will be constructed using wood from Bruce.
The scope of the work on busy Kinderkamack Road, expected to last 10 months, includes widening roads, installing new drainage, curbing, sidewalks, signage, traffic signal systems, and street lighting from Etna Avenue to Jefferson Avenue.
The New Jersey Transit railroad crossing near where Bruce was located is slated to be closed for seven days, starting Sept. 23 after rush hour.
Bruce was removed by Downes Tree Service of Hawthorne.