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Letters: Cutting down 176 Seaford trees

I read with disgust the story about Seaford losing its old-growth trees in favor of unbroken sidewalks ["Sidewalk fix spells doom for old trees," News, Aug. 12]. The same thing happened in my neighborhood, but in the end we were given the choice to keep our trees, thanks to a petition started by a concerned, aesthetic-minded neighbor.

We opted to keep the beautiful, majestic tree in front of our house. Every time I look up at it from my backyard I get a sense of peace, serenity, and the beauty of nature. Sadly, some of our neighbors didn't feel the same way, and there is a barren moonscape there.

It's deplorable that these residents were not given a choice to keep their trees. This is their home, and they deserve to be able to keep it looking attractive. Sidewalks are hardly ever used.

If eliminating the pedestrian path is not an option, then lay down asphalt instead of concrete and route it around the tree roots. Trees absorb pollutants, maintain soil integrity, shade cyclists and pedestrians, and keep grass from drying out.

Nancy Feldman, Commack

The recent Nassau County Department of Public Works capital improvement project along Seaman's Neck Road in Seaford sheds light on a very difficult decision every municipality must make when acting in the best interest of the community.

Nassau County government believes that trees are a vital part of the local landscape and, therefore, plants hundreds of new trees each year. Unfortunately, the department on many occasions must remove trees to rehabilitate county roads and their associated rights of way to make them safe for the traveling public.

Sadly, roots cannot be simply cut as the tree will either die, or be weakened and become potentially dangerous.

In each case, Nassau County makes every attempt to avoid tree removal, and replants trees when removal is necessary. When choosing new trees, our arborists ensure a type of tree is planted that will not damage sidewalks or roadways in the future.

Our goal is to ensure safety while maintaining our suburban quality of life.

Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, Westbury

Editor's note: The writer is the Nassau County commissioner of public works.

Gaza not 'taken' from Palestinians

A recent letter writer said in regard to the people in Palestine, "Their land and their freedom have been, and continue to be, taken from them" ["Protesting killings in Palestine," Letters, Aug. 8].

Gaza was given back to the Palestinians after Israel won it during a war started by the Palestinians.

The people there did not have their freedom taken from them, but certain sanctions, such as the blockade imposed by both the United States and Egypt, have been put in place to stop the smuggling of weapons.

Lyn Mendelsohn, Oceanside

Early Christian heritage at risk

You ran a report from The Washington Post, "U.S. attacks militants in Iraq" [News, Aug. 9], that said that in Northern Iraq religious minorities, in particular the Yazidis, suffer death and expulsion at the hands of Sunni fanatics. The destruction of the ancient Christian communities of Mesopotamia, which have flourished for two millennia, is also a disaster of the first magnitude that the we in the West should be concerned about.

According to the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, about 100,000 Christians, originally expelled from Mosul, are now fleeing their villages in the plain of Nineveh with nothing but their clothes on their back, while the churches they left behind are being demolished and desecrated, their books and documents burned.

A people and its heritage -- which is also many of ours -- are being destroyed as the world watches. We have a responsibility to protect.

Jakob Schmidt, Stony Brook

Civilized people condemn all war

Columnist Lane Filler considers wars that have hatred as the motive to be so much worse than those fought for conquest of territory ["Is genocide worse than plain old war?" Opinion, Aug. 13].

I would like to ask him, then, is the murder of five people because of their ethnic identity worse than killing 5,000 in conquest of their land?

Certainly the history of the world is one in which countless wars have been waged for the acquisition of territory, so that practically no land on the planet is in possession of its original owners. That doesn't mean, though, that we should regard such aggression as morally OK. The UN Charter and international law to which civilized persons subscribe say that war should not be started as a way of handling disputes between nations or to carry out political ambitions.

Filler writes that fighting over land "is not pointless," and is "in the service of a goal," whereas killing for hatred is "disgusting." However, those who kill out of hatred also think that such killing is for a goal. While such goals should disgust decent people, so should goals such as grabbing more territory, wealth or power.

Murray A. Gewirtz, Midwood