That an Elmira couple was jolted awake in the middle of the night by a tree crashing down on their home was bad enough. That they’d been warning the township of just the very concern compounded the frustration.
Dunke Street resident Jennifer Sollazzo and her husband Joe heard a loud noise about 1 a.m. on February 17, awaking to find a large tree had damaged the house and her car.
“We came out to our tree sitting on our vehicles and our house,” she said, noting they’d expressed concerns about the tree, which is on township property.
“[We] knew it was going to happen – that’s all that went through our head. We knew it was going to happen. We tried to get help to get this tree out of here, and we got nowhere.”
While the Sollazzos were told by their insurance company not to touch the car until their adjusters remove it, it sustained substantial damage, including a broken back window. It is unclear how much damage was done to their camper that sits behind the car in the driveway.
According to Sollazzo, they could easily tell the tree did not have a strong foundation, adding that this is not the first time they have had issues with it.
“Several branches have been taken off over the years that have blocked the roads and damaged the roof. And in wintertime time when snow sits on it, you can touch the branches. We’ve been trimming it as much as we can,” she explained.
Sollazzo has gone to the township with her concerns several times over the past 15 years, but Woolwich decided against removal.
“The township has constantly said ‘it’s a live tree, we’re going to save it.’ They’ve had arborists here who have agreed with that scenario,” she said.
In response, the Sollazzos told the township they would get a lawyer when the tree fell. They have already started the process, she noted.
Woolwich clerk Jeff Smith told The Observer there were too few details at this point to comment on the situation.
“With the limited information we have, the township has no comment at this time,” Smith said via email.
Sollazzo said she is “upset with the township that [they] had to wait till this happened to now fix the problem.
“We don’t want to make a big show of this, but this is negligence on the township. This is what we waited for and they knew it was happening.”