Friday, November 1, 2013

Still Stumped by Sandy

Residents still waiting for city to remove tree stumps

By David Greene

BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 1- The Parks Department has been inundated with requests to remove tree stumps, dead trees and repair sidewalk's since Superstorm Sandy-- but despite a $2 million increase in their annual budget, many stumps have been around for years before Sandy.

New York City lost an estimated 20,000 trees that line city streets when the storm struck our area on October 29, 2012. One such tree fell from outside of 17 E. 198 Street in Bedford Park, and landed on a two-family home across the street.

One resident of the block recalled the massive project to remove the giant tree and restore automobile traffic to E. 198 Street, he stated, "They came and cut it up and took it away, but look what they left."

A year after the storm one must navigate carefully across the narrow, dimly-lit street with minefields of cobblestone, just waiting to trip-up an unsuspecting traveler.

The source stated that it was police officers who removed the tree and not Parks Department workers or the sub-contractors who helped in New York City's recovery, many of whom have still not been paid.

The resident continued, "The condition is bringing rats, it's an
eyesore. It's a public hazard."

Another resident of the area explained, "It's so dangerous for a woman, I come off the 4-train and it's so dark, people can't see this."

The homeowner claims he has called 311 on five or six occasions.

A homeowner at 1700 Paulding Avenue in Morris Park says his tree was taken down by Parks Department workers years before Sandy, and he is still waiting.

The homeowner recently stated, "They were suppose to come back and fix the sidewalk and look at the stability and health of a couple of other trees." 

The tree died, like thousands of other via infestation of the Asian
long-horned beetle which was nearly eradicated, but has since made a strong recovery and is once again threatening the nearly 793,000 new trees planted through Mayor Michael Bloomberg's initiative Million Trees NYC.

One such tree planting event was held at Pelham Bay Park on October 10, when Parks officials were joined by members of the National Football League. The event culminated with a massive tree planting in the Rockaways, when 20,000 trees and 5,000 shrubs were planted.

According to Nathan Arnosti of the Parks Department, Parks has a budget of $5,776.164, "for pruning contracts and stump removal, an increase of $2 million from the previous fiscal year."

Barley acknowledging the problem, Arnosti continued, "The city lost approximately 20,000 street trees due to Hurricane Sandy, leaving an estimated 7,000 stumps."

Arnosti added, "An additional 2,000 to 3,000 trees whose damage from Sandy was not apparent until Spring: 2013 are in the process of being removed, and this coming spring Parks will be monitoring the health of an additional 4,000 trees that suffered damage from Sandy in the inundation zones."

The Parks Department spokesman added, "The costs of this ongoing removal process are still being determined."

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