Thursday, December 27, 2012
Avella wants new tree care policy
From the Times Ledger:
Even before Hurricane Sandy, Glen Oaks Village President Bob Friedrich said his group maintained a running list of ailing trees in his part of northeast Queens, but to no avail.
According to Friedrich, the Glen Oaks tree-trimming laundry list went virtually unnoticed when presented to the city Parks Department despite warnings about roughly 50 unhealthy trees.
By the time Superstorm Sandy swept through his streets, Friedrich said almost half of the already problematic trees had toppled down from the intense wind and rain.
“Had those trees been pruned, they wouldn’t have come down so easily,” Friedrich said. “The city is basically ignoring the pleas of northeast Queens communities.”
In front of uprooted sidewalk plots where trees once stood and homes with missing roof shingles, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) joined civic leaders and homeowners in Floral Park last Thursday to blast the Parks Department for neglecting homeowners’ requests and failing to maintain its trees.
“One of the biggest problems residents had to deal with in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy was downed trees,” Avella said. “It is extremely unfortunate that many of the downed trees that either fell on homes or blocked streets are the same trees that constituents have been calling on the city to remove for years.”
Avella said a changing climate has forced the city’s hand in committing to new policies involving tree damage, stump removal and the placement of new trees. The senator had held a news conference on the subject in July 2011 and said things have not gotten any better this year.
To expedite progress, Avella said he developed his own plan, which included calling on the formation of a tree policy review committee to evaluate tree maintenance and to put an immediate temporary halt to the city’s Million Tree Planting program until new rules and procedures are installed.
“This just further illustrates what I have been saying for years as a former City Council member and now state senator — the city needs to do a far better job at maintaining the trees that are already planted before planting a million more,” Avella said. “Going forward, there needs to be a concrete plan in place to address this serious problem.”
Avella said the city was rushing to fulfill its million trees commitment without proper planning, which has resulted in trees being planted in inappropriate or poor locations.