In the March 31 issue of the Queens Chronicle, it was reported that the Association for Neurologically Impaired Brain Injured Children is planning to create a new complex for the elderly that includes a senior center and 10, two bed cottages on the property known as Iris Hill in Bellerose (“ANIBIC plans housing for disable seniors,” Northeast Queens edition). The 7.5-acre property is actually beautiful wooded land that includes one existing building. The land is being given to ANIBIC by the state, according to the article.
This sounds like a wonderful project, however, it was disturbing to read ANIBIC Associate Executive Director John DeBiase’s statement in the article that most of the trees are going to be cut down to construct this project. This land is like a small forest, and it is a shame that most of the trees will have to be destroyed. Even though Mr. DeBiase says that some trees will be kept as a buffer, one wonders why the project design can not be more sensitive to preserving as many existing trees as possible.
Environmentalists agree that the more trees that we have, the better the quality of our air and general surroundings. Asthma and other pulmonary disease rates are higher in areas with fewer trees.
Trees are like outdoor air conditioners in the warm weather. They keep us cool. They also provide shelter and, in some cases, food for birds and small animals. Since this was state land, meaning that it belonged to all of the people of New York, it should behoove the developers to be as skillful as possible to keep as many trees as possible, especially mature ones. This will benefit not only the new residents who will live on the property, but all the rest of us as well.
Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s Million Trees Initiative, we are still losing tree canopy coverage each year in our city. Mature trees on private property are being removed at alarming rates. Storms and disease are taking their toll as well. People must be enlightened with regards to the importance of trees and the need to keep planting, caring for and preserving them, so that not only will we reap the benefits that trees can bring, future generations will as well.
They're not the only ones who are tearing trees down in the name of expansion.
The Queens Museum broke ground Tuesday on a $65 million expansion.
The conversion of the old ice skating rink will add another 50,000 square feet of space to the museum, doubling its size.
Upon completion it will include galleries, classrooms, public event spaces, a cafe and museum store.
The museum director estimates 250,000 people drive by the Queens Museum every day on the Grand Central Parkway and don't even know the treasures it holds.
"A lot of people grew up in Queens, they don't know where we are. We're clearing the trees away -- moving the trees away. There's going to be a 220 foot long work of art on that side of the building facing the Grand Central, so you will know where the Queens Museum is," said Queens Museum Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl.