Thursday, July 12, 2012
Parks lied about condition of College Point trees
From the Times Ledger:
Hardly any of the trees chopped down around the College Point Police Academy in late March were dead, contradicting what a city Parks Department representative told the community. They were instead removed at the request of the lead contractor for the $1 billion project, according to city documents.
The Parks Department signed off on 82 tree removals along College Point Boulevard, 28th Avenue and Ulmer Street, which were carried out to the horror of neighborhood residents.
At an April meeting between Community Board 7 and several city agencies, representatives from Parks and the NYPD said the trees had to be removed because they were dead.
“Right before they were removed, I had two of my foresters go out there with a representative and they inspected every tree and removed all of the dead trees,” Shawn Maerz, deputy director of the Queens Forestry Division, told the meeting. He went on to detail the harsh conditions that make life hard for other batches of trees that had been planted in the area.
But documents obtained by TimesLedger Newspapers through a Freedom of Information request show that the trees were inspected Feb. 27, about a month before they were cut down and that only eight were classified as dead. Nearly all were classified as being in poor condition. Two of the trees were even classified as fair and one as good.
A Parks department spokesman said Maerz misspoke at the meeting and had never held the position that the trees were dead.
But the trees were going to be removed no matter what condition they were in, according to documents obtained from Parks, which shows the College Point construction project will involve tearing up the entire sidewalk and replacing it.
In fact, Maerz had signed a letter addressed to a contractor on the academy project two months before the community board meeting that indicated the removals were entirely to accommodate construction.