Root of the Problem: Ash Tree Protest

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AKRON, Ohio– A local businessman is coping with a development dilemma and an old tree is at the root of the problem.

“It’s older than the buildings in Akron,” said Robert Dennison, who has climbed an ash tree to protest plans to have it cut down. “It’s a part of Akron. I love the city, and the trees are old. They belong here more than us!”

The seemingly healthy tree may have gone unnoticed along West Market Street in Highland Square, where two apartment buildings once stood. They were demolished and the tree was slated to be removed until a group of concerned residents decided to fight for its survival.

“Oh, it’s very beautiful. You can see all the tops of the houses and the moon last night was really nice, rolling across the sky,” said Dennison.

The Nemer family owns the land where a bar and other businesses will be moved from across West Market; but so far the protestors have been successful in keeping the tree cutters away.

“The plans for development have the parking lot at the back of the building and right now, that tree can be included in those plans,” said Julie Farris, who is involved in the protest.

Jodi Henderson has lived in the neighborhood for many years and said the trees helped draw her to this section of the city. She’s now among those committed to saving the ash tree.

“The momentum that’s been generated on Facebook and so forth, just for this protest, the same thing will happen - you know - towards their businesses if this tree comes down and they aren’t willing to cooperate and listen,” said Henderson.

The owner of the land, Ray Nemer, did not want to talk on camera to FOX 8 News. He said he’s not going to have the tree removed while there are people in it and he’s hoping to find a compromise.

“If you keep tearing down everything, what can you look back up on?” asked Akron resident Flossie Greer. “This was part of actually building Akron up and it really is.”

According to Nemer, he’s following the advice of his architect who the protestors are encouraging to find a Plan B. “Take the concerns of the community into account and save the tree; redesign the parking lot,” said Farris.

Nemer is asking the protestors to work with Akron City Council to find a solution.

FOX 8 News contacted the ward representative but did not hear back.