Ted Waddell | Democrat
READY TO "PLANT" are, from the left, Judge Anthony Kane, Greg Lotoreto, Gerry Foundation grounds manager, and Wilson Martin, Groundview Landscape Architecture.
'Re-treeing' at the County Courthouse
By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO When Judge Anthony Kane first came to Sullivan County to practice law, he delighted in walking down Broadway every morning saying hello to people on the street and all the shopkeepers.
Now on the verge of retirement as a NYS Supreme Court Associate Justice, Kane, then an aspiring attorney, used to stroll down the village’s main thoroughfare. When he passed by the future-named Lawrence H. Cooke Courthouse, he paused to reflect upon the beauty of rows of magnificent sugar maples on the lawn.
But just as trees grow and die in Brooklyn, so do they on the local courthouse lawn, and over the last couple of years, Judge Kane along with the courthouse building committee, worked with local cablevision entrepreneur Alan Gerry to come up with a plan to replace several of the 80-100 year old maples that had to be cut down.
“Two years ago Alan Gerry offered to help, and when I ran into him about a year ago he said, ‘Let’s get this done’,” said Judge Kane. “He loves seeing things grow and creating beautiful environments. Planting and growing things is a passion of his.”
So with that in mind, Gerry contacted Groundview Landscape Architecture of Boston, MA to design a plan for installing eight new trees in front of the circa 1909-1910 courthouse and redo the lawn.
“Mr. Gerry wanted to beautify the courthouse and restore the park,” said Greg Lotoreto, grounds manager of the Gerry Foundation.
“He took it upon himself to purchase the trees.… we’re trying to restore some of the heritage of what went before, creating a woods-type effect, looking at the beautiful courthouse building,” added Lotoreto.
Wilson Martin of Groundview Landscape Architecture, said that do avoid the problem of adult trees maturing and dying at the same time, the design specified planting a variety of species including oak, maple and American elms.
“We didn’t want to replace them with another monoculture,” he said. “We wanted to create a canopy of trees with dappled shade.”
Judge Kane, who was elected as a Sullivan County Family Court Judge in 1985, and then worked his way up the judicial ladder to Sullivan County Court Judge & Surrogate, and then a NYS Supreme Court Trial Judge before being appointed to the Appellate Division in August 2002, recently announced his retirement from the bench after 25 years, “to enjoy some of the fruits of our labors for these many years.”
As chairman of the courthouse building committee which included Earl Lilley, Jim Hemmer, Loretta Duarte and Michael Davidoff Judge Kane credited the efforts of the county legislature “in wisely investing resources in the most significant building in the county architecturally and a symbol of good government.”
In recent years, the stone courthouse has been refaced, the courtrooms revamped and the vintage clock repaired.
When Judge Kane and his wife Nancy lived in Merriewold Park outside Forestburgh, he took solace, after a hard day at work, in the tranquil sense of beauty to be found in the shufuden, a Japanese pagoda imported to the private retreat from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I was struck for the first time ever by the importance of architecture on your sense of being,” he recalled.
Lawrence ”Squeakie” Ruff, an equipment operator for the Sullivan County Department of Public Works (DPW) used a backhoe to speed up the process of planting the trees.
His take on the project?
“Nice trees, nice courthouse… looking good!” replied Ruff.
From his office, Judge Kane can look out over the courthouse lawn and reflect upon the future of the county, and one of the new trees, the only sugar maple to be installed, a tree he called “significant.”
“I have great hope for this community and the county,” he said. “It will find an economic and social future, and thrive in the years to come.”
“We wanted to make the front of the courthouse more park-like, a place where people can come and congregate, and maintain the beauty of the setting.”
“Trees are an expression of one’s confidence and hope for the future,” added Judge Kane.
“It’s something you put into the ground, it’s something that’s not going to reach it’s full beauty until long after you’re gone… your children, grandchildren and their children will enjoy what you have started.”