MANHATTAN — Just hours after the news broke that someone had illegally lopped off the tops of a pair of trees that obscured a giant Tribeca Film Festival and Heineken billboard, the beer company offered to replace the mutilated trees.
A Heineken representative said the company was in no way behind the "reprehensible" pruning on the southwest corner of West Houston Street and West Broadway but would nonetheless shoulder the burden of replanting.
"We will replace the trees at our expense," a Heineken spokeswoman said Friday morning after DNAinfo broke the story on the trees, adding that the brewery will be advised by the New York Tree Trust, a program of the Parks Department.
"We will rely on the Tree Trust to advise us on the appropriate type and size of tree," she said.
The timing of the replacement of the 10-year-old honey locusts, which locals noticed earlier this month had been chopped, was not yet clear.
A Parks Department spokeswoman said she was unaware of Heineken's offer.
"NYC Parks wants to take this opportunity to remind the public that arborcide is a serious crime," she said. "We urge anyone who may have information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator or perpetrators to report it by calling 311."
It's illegal to damage trees on city property, and violations can be punishable by fines as much as $15,000 and a year in prison, according to the Parks department website.
Heineken will continue to look into whether a third-party installer of the four-story ad attached to the side of a building has any knowledge of what happened, the company spokeswoman said.
"In no way was this action sanctioned by us," she said. "We had nothing to do with it and we find it to be reprehensible."
Tribeca Film Festival previously said it had no knowledge of work performed on the trees, and billboard owner Fuel Outdoor did not respond to multiple calls for comment.
TriBeCa resident and certified citizen tree pruner Steve Boyce, 60, said he appreciated the replacement of the trees on high-traffic West Houston Street.
"It's definitely a gesture, and it's greatly appreciated," he said.
Boyce suggested the city pursue a long-term solution to conflicts with the owners of billboards in high-traffic areas.
"This is a cat-and-mouse game," he said. "The city and billboard owners could either make sure trees [in front of billboards] are trimmed or that there are just no trees there."