Shade trees chopped down in Oval, management says some trees were overgrown

Workers remove trees from the Oval on Tuesday.

Workers remove trees from the Oval on Tuesday.

By Sabina Mollot

On Tuesday around midday, workers began to cut down trees, specifically every other shade tree surrounding the interior walkway around the Oval, to the horror of some residents passing by.

The resident who snapped this photo reported, “This removed half the shaded areas covering many of the benches used by the tenants. These trees were planted a number of years ago when the tree service organization cut down all 40 of the original, mature and healthy, London Plane trees that shaded the same areas. London Plane trees have a life span of over 200 years. It took a number of years to regain the shade provided to the tenant by the current trees. When I asked the individual supervising the tree service personnel why they were removing the trees his only answer was ‘We were told to.’ It will take many more years for the trees that now remain to grow and possibly provide shade to the benches that the tenants currently utilize.”

This move follows work last month to remove much of the plantings around the Oval, that CW spokesperson Brian Moriarty said was part of ongoing landscaping around the entire property.

Tenants Association Chair Susan Steinberg, meanwhile, said she hoped the area would be replanted soon.

“When Tishman Speyer cut down many mature trees several years ago, we were assured they did so because the trees were beetle-infested or dying (whether one believes it or not is another story),” she said. “I would hope that is the case now rather than a sheer landscaping decision. Some of the trees in our community must be more than 65 years old and are treasures.  Moreover, they have taken out what was an absolutely beautiful and lush arrangement of plants and bushes around the perimeter of the Oval, leaving us with barren earth. If they don’t plan on replanting the area with an arrangement equally breathtaking, shame on them.”

A spokesperson for CWCapital did not respond to a request for an explanation by T&V’s print deadline on Wednesday.

However, on Friday afternoon, in one of CompassRock’s emailed newsletters, management discussed the ongoing landscaping work. One of the goals, apparently, is to remove trees that are “overgrown” as well to correct landscaping work done during Tishman Speyer’s ownership which eventually resulted in hundreds of newly planted trees dying or having to be removed from the grounds.

On the recent work in Oval crescent-shaped flowerbeds, in which plantings were stripped, CompassRock said, “This work is part of a property-wide landscaping stabilization program currently in progress, with the goal of establishing a landscape environment which will thrive for years to come. This requires the correction of programs undertaken by prior ownership, which did not ensure adequate care or space for plants to grow, including many instances of tree, shrub and flower plantings in inappropriate soil and sunlight conditions.”

Management also said the landscaping renovation includes “the transplant of trees and shrubs to other locations in the property; removal of several overgrown trees and plants; remediation of the soil; and improvements to the existing irrigation and electrical infrastructure embedded in the crescents. The new tree species being planted in the crescent beds will be lower in height and density, allowing the trees the space they need to prosper, as well as increasing  visibility into the Oval for both passers-by and security. When completed, the gardens will have a cleaner look and a new, lush ground with perennials to add color. The final plantings will be completed in the coming three weeks and new fencing will be established to protect the area and keep it healthy.”

Resident the owner of Weed World van

The Weed World Candies van can often be spotted parked in Stuyvesant Town.

The Weed World Candies van can often be spotted parked in Stuyvesant Town.

By Sabina Mollot

Over the past few weeks, residents of Stuyvesant Town have begun reporting sightings of a mysterious van with the words “Weed World” written on the side, complete with oversized images of lollipops, with flavors such as “herojuana” and “AK47” on the other side.

Wondering exactly what it is the van was selling, residents have been swapping photos and theories.

One resident, Lawrence Barnes, recently wrote in to T&V after seeing it parked on the Avenue C Loop.

“It’s bad enough that it’s a pot delivery van, but, in a community with so many young children, who walk past it to go to school or camp, equating pot with candy and lollipops is outrageous,” Barnes said. “My definition of drug pushers includes parking a van outside a playground that advertises pot as candy.”

In response to a call from Town & Village, the owner and founder of Weed World Candies, said he didn’t share the resident’s offense about the vehicle being parked close to a playground.

Because, said Bilal Muhammad a.k.a. “Dro Man,” who is a Stuyvesant Town resident himself, “hemp is legal.” And though all the flavored lollipops, and all the company’s other products, such as baked goods, are made from hemp, there’s no THC — the primary ingredient in the marijuana plant that gets those who use it high.

Dro Man added that the company was an advocate of the industrialization of marijuana, “and to industrialize it, you’d have to de-criminalize marijuana because you have to grow it. This is part of our mission, because hemp is used for a lot of medicinal things. It’s not a drug. Drugs are manufactured.”

Incidentally, any visitor to the company’s website, weedworldcandies.net, can see based on the gallery of photos that the company is not opposed to its recreational use either.

The company began 13 years ago with zero trucks, “just our own two feet,” said Dro Man, who’s now 34 and said there are 36 trucks in various cities. These days, the vans operate to do deliveries and to sell on the streets, the New York one often spotted in Union Square. The vans in other cities are operated by contractors. The hemp lollipops they all sell are $5 each, with the most popular flavors with stoners as well as the just plain curious being the white widows pop, which has a pina colada flavor, girl scout cookies, sour diesel and strawberry cough.

“That’s why the stoners really love the candy, because the tastes take you there,” said Dro Man. Along with the lollipops, the company also caters other food products made from hemp including pasta dishes and hemp butter.

Dealing with the police or other people thinking they’re selling drugs has of course been a challenge.

“There are so many questions you have to answer for the consumer a lot of the times,” he said.

However, Weed World Candies has had to deal with an even bigger problem that that, which is that a person Dro Man described as a “stalker” has recently created a copycat website, offering the same exact candy products.

“Someone is getting sued,” said Dro Man. “He’s been piggybacking off of us and stealing our business by taking people’s money.” He declined to elaborate further, explaining he didn’t want to give the alleged impostor any publicity. An e-mail sent to an address listed on the other site from T&V was returned undelivered.

As for how he got started, Dro Man, who grew up in Alabama, said his interest in hemp began with the anti-drug campaigns targeting kids in the 1980s, around the time of the Reagan administration’s “Just Say No” campaign. While the goal was actually to keep kids away from drugs, Dro Man said they had the opposite effect, because of how much they were marketed and promoted to young people.

“It was promoting drugs to us because (before the campaign) we knew nothing about drugs, crack. The more you hear it, the more you see it, the more you are prone to try it.”

Dro Man, who moved to Stuyvesant Town a couple of months ago, lives there with two other company employees or “Weed World family” members, as he put it. So far, it’s been okay, he said, except that it’s a bit isolated and it’s easy to hear neighbors and vice versa.

Apparently, smells are also easily spread around, according to a couple of neighbors in the building who said sometimes the whole floor smells of pot. One resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said security’s responded more than once.

In response, Dro Man insisted the smell is just kush incense that’s also used in the van to attract customers.

“It’s for marketing,” he said. “We even sell those. People just go too far calling security or police.”

Meanwhile, Stuy Town management also has its own stance on Weed World Candies. Though most of the time, the van has been parked legally in the loop roads, Brian Moriarty, a spokesperson for CWCapital, said, “In cases where they are not parked legally, they have been ticketed and towed. Obviously, management has no intention of allowing them to sell their merchandise on any property controlled by management.”