For many people who live in southeast Queens, the 13-acre parcel of trees and vacant land at the intersection of Guy R. Brewer Blvd. and Rockaway Blvd. is a vital buffer between their homes and Kennedy Airport.
City officials, however, see the site as the solution to an urgent problem.
It has been selected as the place to relocate more than 3,000 cars from the College Point impound lot so it can be cleared for a new, state-of-the-art police academy.
Plan to move impound lot near JFK Airport riles residents
The number of cars to be housed at the lot has been scaled down to 3,200 from 3,400. In addition, the NYPD promised to limit the types of vehicles brought into the new pound. And the exterior of the pound will be landscaped.
"With the trees and everything there, you won't really see it," said Marshall. "There will be no crushing of vehicles at the site."
As a sweetener, the city agreed to set aside 22 acres of land close to the pound, near Thurston Basin, as a park. Local residents have lobbied for years to get a park on the site.
"The community is happier now that there have been some concessions, but they aren't thrilled," said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13. "This had served as a buffer to the airport. It's a green area and it's going away."
There are about 700 trees at the site but only about 100 are considered "significant," city officials told Hellenbrecht. He said all greenery there is important.
"As far as I am concerned any tree with leaves on it cleans the air," he said.
Marshall said she secured a promise from the city to replace any trees uprooted to build the pound.
"Evidently, they were going to level the whole place," she said.
The move would have run counter to Mayor Bloomberg's sweeping PlaNYC 2030 initiative to plant 1 million trees by 2017.
And it still does...