Broken branch hangs precariously in West Baltimore tree

The problem: A broken tree limb hangs above a West Baltimore sidewalk, caught on other branches.

The backstory: If a tree limb falls in West Baltimore, will it fall to the ground? Not necessarily.


That's the problem James Short has had with a broken branch in the Franklintown community.

He said he called 311 to report dead tree limbs in the 600 block of N. Rosedale St.


His home backs up to Rosedale Street, which forms part of the eastern boundary of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park. Low branches on the park side had begun to extend over the roadway, hitting cars and SUVs as they passed.

"The vegetation is growing to the point where it's extended past the guard rail," he said. "I'm sure most people don't want to get their cars scratched."

Short said that after his call, someone marked one of the trees to be trimmed, and another to be cut down entirely.

"But that was a long time ago," Short said. "They haven't been back since."

Then about a month ago, he said someone told him they saw a broken limb hanging from other branches.

He said he called 311 again, but no one responded. So, he called Watchdog.

Watchdog took a look early last week and confirmed that a branch was hanging precariously above the sidewalk and the roadway.

Watchdog alerted the city Department of Recreation and Parks, whose Forestry Division maintains street trees.


Bill Vondrasek, the chief of parks, said that inspectors had responded in April to a 311 call and determined that no action was necessary.

They "went and looked at it and determined nothing needed to be done," Vondrasek said.

The city's acting arborist then went to look at the tree last week after Watchdog's call and agreed with the April inspection report — nothing needed to be done.

The arborist did not see a hanging branch, he said. And there were no 311 records of the call about the branch, he said.

On Friday, an inspector returned to the area and spotted the limb — at a different address than the reader and Watchdog had reported. He said crews would return to the area and remove the limb over the weekend.

Trimming the lower branches of other foliage that hit passing cars would be a lower priority, the parks official said.


"Back in the day we might have been able to do some proactive pruning," Vondrasek said. "Right now we have our hands full just eliminating safety risks."

However, someone had painted a white ring around the tree, a signal that the forestry division uses to mark trees that need to be removed, Vondrasek said. The parks department bundles these jobs and bids them out to contractors, but this tree on Rosedale Street wasn't mentioned on any of those lists, Vondrasek said.

Who can fix this: Basil Mathews, acting city arborist, Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks. 410-396-6110. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

— Liz F. Kay

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