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Jun 7, 2018 5:17 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mistakenly Destroyed Hedgerow Puts Damper On Planned Fundraiser At Madoo This Weekend

An old hedgerow at the Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack was mistakenly destroyed when a landscaper was clearing the way for a new home on the neighboring property.        KYRIL BROMLEY
Jun 12, 2018 2:30 PM

The Madoo Conservancy is scrambling to restore a hedgerow that was mistakenly chopped down in early April—with a major fundraiser planned this weekend.

The tall hedgerow, which acted as a backdrop for plantings as well as a barrier between the neighboring property and Madoo’s 2 acres of gardens and historical structures, was accidentally destroyed by a landscaper who was clearing the way to build a new house on the property next to Madoo in Sagaponack.

Madoo does not have plans to reschedule its annual Much Ado About Madoo cocktail party on Friday, June 15, and garden market on Saturday, June 16, even though guests will be forced to look at piles of dirt from the property next door, said Madoo Executive Director Alejandro Saralegui.

Two years ago, the lawyer for the owner of the neighboring property, Christopher Rice, informed Madoo officials of plans to rebuild on the property in the future, Mr. Saralegui said. “I told the lawyer that my main concern was our privacy and what was going to happen on our property line,” he said, adding that the 12-to-16-foot-tall hedgerow stood extremely close to the line separating the conservancy’s property and Mr. Rice’s. “I told the lawyer to keep us in the loop.”

Mr. Saralegui recalled that he wasn’t told when the construction would start—and that it was devastating to come into the office one day to find that the hedgerow that had stood there for “eons” was destroyed. “Right away, I wrote the lawyer and said, ‘We have a problem,’” he recalled.

Though the 270-foot-long hedgerow on the Madoo property is irreplaceable, according to Mr. Saralegui, he acknowledged that it was not destroyed on purpose. “I don’t think it was malicious,” he said. “Accidents happen.”

Mr. Rice is being cooperative and has agreed to pay for the damaged hedgerow, possibly replacing it with privet hedge or something similar, but Mr. Saralegui said that it would not be the same. “The effect would be completely different,” he said. “I don’t want a suburban hedge.

“There was an owl living in a dead tree that is now gone,” he continued. “How do you plant a dead tree? It’s never going to be the same.”

Mr. Saralegui said estimates for the cost to replace the hedgerow range from $50,000 to $80,000, adding that while Mr. Rice will cover the cost of damages, the cost of altering the surrounding gardens to fit with the new hedgerow will come out of Madoo’s pocket.

“The proceeds raised during the event would usually go toward the general upkeep of Madoo’s gardens,” he said of this weekend’s fundraising. “Now, we’ll have to put them toward restorations.”

The conservancy has maintained a positive outlook on the incident, and Mr. Saralegui hopes that it will bring in more support for Madoo.

“You can always find a silver lining in something,” he said. “We’ll come out better and stronger—it’s just a shame it happened.”

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