18 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 12, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Unpruned street trees in Flushing cause concern among residents
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
email@example.com / @smont76
Towering city trees lining a street in
Flushing have residents concerned for
Homeowners living along 167th Street
between Pidgeon Meadow Road and
Underhill Avenue are feeling frustrated
with the city, who they say has been unresponsive
to years of tree-related worries.
Residents who spoke on site at a press
conference on April 6 noted that many of
the trees on the block slant toward their
homes, are in need of pruning, or are in
poor condition overall.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,”
said homeowner Penelope Angelopolous.
“If one of these trees happened to fall
over, it’ll hit our homes … Right now, this
small wind that we have today is actually
bending the trees.”
Homeowners on the block claimed they
have reached out to the Parks Department
and 311 in recent years, but were told the trees
were still alive and nothing could be done.
“You’re afraid to invite people over,
your grandchildren over,” said Mary
Holzer, a 47-year Flushing resident.
“Every day I’m out here cleaning up fallen
Next-door neighbor Isabella Mango
attributed the overgrown tree hovering
over her home as the cause of a squirrel
infestation in her attic. Th e sidewalk
in front of her house has also been fi xed
twice in recent years due to tree roots; it is
breaking up again, she noted.
“It’s a band-aid fi x. It’s not solving the
real problem,” she said.
State Senator Tony Avella, who organized
the press conference, noted that
the residential block is located two blocks
away from Kissena Park, where, in August
2013, a 30-year-old expectant mother was
struck and killed by a fallen tree while sitting
on a bench.
“No wind, no rain, or anything, and
the tree fell over,” Avella said. “During
Hurricane Sandy, just a block away, a tree
came down and killed a young man who
was sleeping in his own bedroom.”
Th e lawmaker has spoken openly
against the NYC Parks Department’s
tree policies in the past. He was critical
of the city’s “Tree and Sidewalk Repair
Program,” announced in the summer
of 2017, which he said does not go far
enough to provide all homeowners relief.
Earlier this year, Avella surveyed homeowners
in his district about the city’s tree
removal and pruning services. Of the
1,250 homeowners who responded to the
survey, two-thirds said they felt the tree in
front of their home was unsafe.
“Th at’s an indictment against the city
of New York for not doing a proper job,”
Avella mentioned he recently introduced
state legislation that seeks to establish
a task force to evaluate the Parks
Department’s policies on tree maintenance.
Th e bill is currently in committee.
Parks Department spokesperson
Meghan Lalor said routine pruning of
street trees occurs within a section of each
Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS
community board annually, depending
on available funding.
“NYC Parks routinely prunes street
trees to maintain public safety, address
immediate confl icts with infrastructure,
and enhance tree health and longevity,”
Th e spokesperson also noted that
homeowners with time-sensitive issues
may pursue maintenance of a street tree
themselves, though this work requires a
tree work permit, which can be acquired
by contacting the NYC Parks Queens
Borough Forestry division or through the
Flushing residents and state Senator Tony Avella speak about the trees on site
Queens pols agree: Union Tpke. trees need some TLC
BY SUZANNE MONTEVERDI
firstname.lastname@example.org / @smont76
Two eastern Queens lawmakers have
joined the call for the city to take better
care of the trees planted along a busy local
Dead and poorly maintained trees
along the Union Turnpike median running
through areas of Hollis Hills and
Fresh Meadows have been a long-term
concern, according to local activists.
Longtime Hollis Hills resident Louis
Lapolla spoke with Th e Courier in March
about the issue, which he said has blighted
the neighborhood for about six years.
Weeks aft er our report, Assembly members
Nily Rozic and David Weprin are
now joining the call. Th e lawmakers are
urging the city Department of Parks and
Recreation (DPR) to inspect the trees
along the corridor between Francis Lewis
Boulevard and Main Street.
“Although they may be a small part
of our blueprint, trees in our neighborhood
should not be neglected,” Rozic
said. “I urge the Department of Parks and
Recreation to expedite inspections and
replace the damaged trees.”
Weprin, who represents neighboring
District 24, also advocated for “better care
and attention” to the trees in the area.
“Our trees and forestry here in northeast
Queens are characteristic of the great
neighborhoods that surround our respective
districts,” he said.
Hillcrest Estates Civic Association president
Jackie Forrestal and Fresh Meadows
Homeowners Civic Association president
James Gallagher Jr. backed the lawmakers’
“I want to thank Assembly members
Rozic and Weprin for their continued
concern for the Fresh Meadows community,”
Gallagher Jr. said. “I appreciate
their care for every issue that impacts
local homeowners, from trees to property
While on site in March, Lapolla pointed
out that DPR planted the trees about
six years ago. Many died almost immediately,
A Parks spokesperson told Th e Courier
that consistent exposure to air pollution,
salt and vehicle collisions cause high mortality
rates in trees planted along medians.
As of March 23, the agency could not
provide an immediate time frame for the
removal and potential replacement of the
Photo: Suzanne Monteverdi/THE COURIER
trees in the area.
Lapolla, who is also a member of the
Hollis Hills Civic Association, said he
and the group plan to send the Parks
Department a letter about the trees.