Oak Bluffs police are investigating the unauthorized removal of a 35-foot-tall catalpa tree on the corner of Grove and Ocean avenues in Ocean Park.
Sgt. Daniel Cassidy told the Gazette by phone Monday that police were contacted after a Facebook post went up by Mark Crossland about the tree’s removal. Mr. Crossland’s company, Crossland Landscape, contracts with the town to maintain the iconic seaside park.
On Sunday, Oak Bluffs Sgt. Nicholas Curelli was notified of the removal by an individual who claimed to have seen a man Friday afternoon chopping the tree down with an axe, according to Sergeant Cassidy.
Amy Billings, chairman of the town parks and recreation committee, said any homeowner who wishes to trim or remove a tree on town-owned land near their property is required to come before the committee for approval. Ms. Billings no one sought permission to cut down the catalpa tree.
“You don’t get to just cut down a tree on public property, never mind Ocean Park,” Ms. Billings said.
Sergeant Cassidy said officers went door to door in Ocean Park Sunday to see if anyone saw anything. He said several homeowners in the area had cameras that might have caught the incident on tape. “So we’re waiting to see that footage,” the sergeant said.
Ms. Billings said many of the homes that line Ocean Park have property lines that do not extend much beyond the front steps. The grassy area between Ocean avenue and the southwest side of the park is owned by the town, she said.
“Right now it’s a matter of someone who cut down a tree who didn’t have permission and we’re just trying to find out who it was,” Ms. Billings said.