And because Dr. Brad Masse responded to questions from the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department late last week, Police Chief Roger DeYoung said he will no longer pursue criminal charges for the local dentist.
Masse had contended that Village Manager Chris Burns gave him permission to cut the trees in mid-July after he complained that the trees dropped apples in his yard and blocked his waterfront view. Burns has maintained she never gave Masse permission.
Masse said he cut the trees in the park at the end of Alden Street on July 15.
Neighbors and village staff said they were concerned about the way the branches were “butchered” and that they were cut during the growing season, which could prove potentially dangerous for the trees.
Village Public Works Director Roger Belknap said four village workers spent two hours picking up and disposing of the branches that Masse left at the end of Alden Street, a labor value of close to $300.
DeYoung said Masse told a Spring Lake/Ferrysburg police officer that he would pay for the labor. Masse also agreed to pay for the trees to be replaced if they should die.
In a letter of apology that Masse e-mailed to the Tribune this past weekend, he also offered to hire a professional service to reshape the trees and refinish the park's benches and decking.
“I'm not sure exactly what happened between (Masse) and Manager Burns — I'm not sure if there was a miscommunication or what," DeYoung said. "We told him to own up to what happened, take care of it and move on. It's not like he committed a murder or something. He trimmed some apple trees. Just don't touch our trees anymore.”
Masse's letter to the Tribune, titled “An Open Letter to the Village of Spring Lake," is attached below (see RELATED FILES).
In the letter, Masse expressed “a sincere apology for all the emotions that my actions have aroused.”
DeYoung, Belknap and Burns said Masse did not send them a copy of the letter.
“The whole thing was unfortunate," Belknap said. "But whatever the future may hold for those trees, it sounds like that may be something he's willing to work with the village on. I'm just pleased that he's showing signs that he wants to make restitution.”