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The Regional Water Authority’s (RWA) Police Department has arrested the person responsible for cutting down Hamden’s iconic “Door Tree” on RWA property.
On Thursday, July 18, 2019, the RWA learned that Hamden’s iconic landmark “Door Tree” was cut down. Careful examination by the RWA’s forester and environmental management team determined that this tree is a white oak, estimated to be over 200 years in age. The Door Tree was in exceptionally good health for a tree of its age and would have likely lived for many more years were it not the target of vandalism. Using evidence gathered at the scene and information on the circumstances of the tree provided by the RWA’s forester and environmental management team, the RWA Police were able to identify the person responsible within 48 hours of launching their investigation.
“The vandalism of the Door Tree is a tragedy, but today we can be proud of the top-notch collaborative work done by the RWA, the Hamden Historical Society and others to resolve this senseless crime,” said Larry Bingaman, President and CEO of the Regional Water Authority. “The RWA preserves and protects over 27,000 acres of watershed land in order to deliver the highest-quality water to our customers. That our environmentalists and Police Department were able to resolve this case in less than 48 hours is a testament to their excellent work, commitment to public safety, and the protection and stewardship of the environment.”
“The Door Tree was an iconic landmark, and it has been taken from our community forever in a terrible act of thoughtless vandalism,” said David Johnson, Hamden’s municipal historian and a member of the Hamden Historical Society. “While we are saddened by the loss of the tree, we are glad the party responsible will soon be held accountable for this crime. With this investigation behind us, the Hamden Historical Society and the RWA are planning to memorialize the Door Tree’s history so that it can continue to be appreciated by generations to come.”
“The RWA Police Department is appreciative of the support we received from the Town of Hamden, the Hamden Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Quinnipiac University’s Department of Public Safety, and of course our team at the RWA who jumped into action to provide the information we needed to solve this crime,” said Paul Ruggiero, Captain of the RWA Police Department. “In particular, I want to thank Officer Celeste Robitaille, the newest member of our department, for taking the lead on collecting evidence, analyzing findings and chasing down leads. This investigation was a collaborative effort, but Celeste’s work led us to this point and is the primary reason we were able to identify the person responsible.”
The RWA also thanks the hundreds of people who sent messages of support upon learning about the Door Tree’s destruction. Concerned individuals from throughout Connecticut, the United States and around the world expressed their disappointment after seeing photos of this historic icon’s ruin. The RWA received messages of support from as far away as Canada, the Philippines and Israel. The destruction of this unique and historic tree clearly struck a chord with people from around the world. The RWA hopes that they will honor the memory of the Door Tree by doing their part locally to protect trees and the natural environment in their own communities.
While what caused the unique growth of the Door Tree is unknown, the RWA believes the Door Tree gained its distinctive doorway-like arch from an acorn that sprouted while sitting atop a hemlock tree or downed log. The acorn maintained this unique shape as it grew into a tree and its base rotted away. While the Door Tree no longer stands, the RWA’s forester noted that another plant has begun to grow from its stump, working against the odds to grow and thrive, just as the Door Tree did many decades ago.