From the Daily News:
A Long Island Rail Road effort to clear brush that blocks passing trains in Forest Hills has devastated a plentiful array of trees and shrubs that added natural beauty to the urban landscape, angry locals charge.
The stretch of decimated plant life - along the north side of tracks parallel to Austin St. from 71st to 82nd Aves. - reminded residents of a 2007 LIRR sweep that turned mighty trees into mere stumps.
"I was really hoping to prevent the mass clearing," said Nate Grove, 36, who lives in an Ascan Ave. co-op. "There's no ground coverage, there's no saplings and limbs have been removed from big, healthy trees."
"They cut down 100-year-old trees," co-op president James Versocki said. "There were other alternatives. They could have replaced [them] with evergreens."
Another Tennis View co-op owner, Edward McGinnis, griped that the trees cut down in 2007 had provided not only pleasant scenery but also a train noise barrier for the adjacent West Side Tennis Club.
But LIRR spokesman Salvatore Arena insisted the railroad made efforts "to preserve a tree buffer where possible," adding, "Safety is always our overriding concern."