The Tree Hater of Morgan Park

Hundred-year-old oaks cut down in 10 minutes

By Steve Rhodes
|  Monday, Jun 1, 2009  |  Updated 9:46 AM CDT
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The Tree Hater of Morgan Park

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Mr. T claimed he was allergic to the trees on his Lake Forest estate.

Willie Whitaker must have his reasons for cutting down the 100-year-old oaks on his property in the Morgan Park neighborhood, but so far he's not letting on.

And his neighbors are pissed.

"This is insane," Carla Winterbottom told the SouthtownStar. "It took 100 years for some of these trees to grow, and now they're gone in 10 minutes."

Winterbottom is the head of Keeping Beverly Green. Unfortunately, there is no Keeping Willie Whitaker Green branch.

"They're my trees. They didn't pay for the trees. My trees are going to be cut," Whitaker told a SouthtownStar reporter before refusing to comment further.

Even the work crew - which counted 175 rings on one stump - was perplexed; the trees were healthy.

Theodore Richardson, who has lived on Longwood Drive across from Whitaker's yard since 1974, said, "He's another Mr. T."

Citing allergies, Mr. T., the Rush Street bouncer-turned-actor, cut down about 100 oak trees from his seven-acre estate in 1987, angering his neighbors in Lake Forest, the SouthtownStar reported.

The block where Whitaker lives still has it share of trees left, but the sudden removal of stately oaks like the ones on Whitaker's property  will be felt.

 "A canopy of robust, mature trees can define the character of a community," the Beverly Area Planning Association says, "and everyone benefits."

Everyone, apparently, except Willie Whitaker.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of  The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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