O.B. settles unauthorized tree removal

Thomas Hjerpe paid the town to replace a tree he removed in Ocean Park. — Brian Dowd

Oak Bluffs parks commissioner Amy Billings reached a $2,025 settlement with Thomas Hjerpe, 54, of Northborough after Hjerpe’s unauthorized removal of a catalpa tree in Ocean Park.

Billings told The Times in an email the $2,025 settlement was determined by a quote from Crossland Landscape and Hagerty Tree. The money will cover the cost of replacing the catalpa tree, stump grinding, plus two years’ maintenance.

Select board members gave Billings permission to explore legal action against Hjerpe, but Billings said the matter never reached court. “I felt it wasn’t worth wasting town money on lawyers,” Billings wrote. “However, if anything like this ever happens in the parks again, we will just have the police press charges.”

The issue began less than a week into 2021, when a catalpa tree was mysteriously removed from the park. Hjerpe came forward after Mark Crossland of Crossland Landscape, which maintains the park for the town, posted a photo of the tree stump on Facebook.

Hjerpe, a seasonal resident, is listed as the owner of two condos at 61 Ocean Ave., which has a direct view of the cut-down tree, according to assessors’ records.

Billings previously told The Times she learned Hjerpe had been trimming the tree “for years.”


  1. I wonder why the police didn’t charge him ?
    One would think that would be the first thing to happen.
    Do the police need permission from the commission to bring charges against a vandal ?
    I see it says “if anything like this ever happens in the park again”
    No mention of any other trees in town. Are they fair game ? If someone cuts a tree on circuit ave, or any other park, do they just have to pay to have it replanted ?
    I’m sure Hjerpe is quite fine with the new view from his 2 condo units– He can likely make that $2000 back this summer because he can get more rental money.
    It sets a very bad precedent for him to not be charged with a crime.

  2. Nice to see there was some repercussion from this obvious violation. This gentleman must not be one of the connected island individuals as so often we see owners and businesses get away with breaking the law and no consequences.

  3. Small price to pay when mature trees of like are sold at over $200.00 a lineal foot. Is the town asking/telling this individual to replace it in kind? If so, there is transportation to get that mature tree to the island, then include planting, stump grinding and at least 5 yrs of maintenance for it to get established. Were all these things taken into consideration. Or will it cost the OB tax payer money or do we just not care?
    Hmmm, did I just read ‘chainsaw for hire’?

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