He’s mad as hell — and he’s not going to rake it anymore!
Bay Ridge resident Richard Mahany is so angry that the city won’t chop down a stinky ginkgo tree that dumps its foul-smelling fruit on the sidewalk in front of his 78th Street home that he has stopped cleaning up its odorous droppings in protest.
“The tree is a menace,” said Mahany, who at 74, is about the same age as the arbor that towers over his home. “If the city can refuse to remove the tree, then I can refuse to clean up the mess — it’s a city tree!”
Mahany moved into the home near the corner of Fifth Avenue more than 40 years ago and has diligently raked the putrid ginkgo nuts into the street, clearing a pathway so passersby aren’t forced to step on the notoriously pungent droppings.
But after a quintuple bypass surgery and treatment for an aortic aneurysm, he says he just doesn’t have the energy to clean up the mess — which coats his sidewalk almost every night in the fall and winter and produces an vomitous odor that wafts all the way to Fifth Avenue.
“When I clean it up, I ruin my shoes and smell like vomit afterwards,” said Mahany, who also blames the tree for uprooting a section of his sidewalk. “The neighbors will have to live with the stink and mess.”
Other than telling him to hold his nose, the city has done little to help Mahany in his fight against the awful-smelling tree.
Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson told The Brooklyn Paper that the city stopped planting female ginkgo trees — male ginkgos don’t smell — after realizing they were a “nuisance,” but the agency has no policy to help homeowners who’ve ended up with the grotesque germination.
“We don’t really have the resources to clean up the fruit,” said Abramson, who noted that a ginkgo clean-up is a homeowner’s responsibility, much like raking leaves.
And chopping down the tree isn’t an option because it’s healthy.
Though some neighbors sympathize with Mahany’s fight, not everyone hates the smelly tree. And that’s part of the problem.
In recent years, Mahany has spotted Brooklynites removing the ginkgo seeds — which are popular in Chinese soups — from their shells.
“They squish the fruit and take the seed and leave the pulp in the garden and on the sidewalk, making the mess even worse,” he said.
Foodies aren’t the borough’s only ginkgo lovers. Botanists adore the arbors — which are among the world’s oldest varieties of trees — for their beauty.
Mark Fisher of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden said he marvels at the ginkgo tree for its “interesting foliage” and because “it grows so well in the city.”
Mahany agrees that it’s a beautiful tree — he just doesn’t want the ginkgo in front of his home any longer.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love trees. I’m willing to pay for another tree – I just don’t have the energy to keep cleaning this up.”