The recent mindless attacks against 12 trees in Juniper Vallery Park highlights a disturbing trend occurring not only in our community but all over the City of New York. And the culprits more often than not are not teens just out for some mischief. Tree abusers come in all sizes, shapes, income levels and ages.
Perhaps the biggest abuser turns out to be the people that plants the trees, the City of New York led by Mayor Bloomberg. Now some will say how can Mayor Bloomberg be a tree abuser, after all didn’t he vow to plant one million new trees? Bloomberg says that the City of New York will plant 60% of the million trees in parks and other public spaces. The other 40% will come from private organizations, homeowners, and community organizations. Already Bloomberg is claiming that the city planted 220,000 new street trees.
What Bloomberg has failed to mention while he’s planting one million new trees is that he has not put any additional resources in protecting the ones we have. Many trees have taken over a hundred years to grow. According to the woefully underfunded Forestry Division of the Parks Department they can only prune trees once every 10 years. Many doubt that they are even doing that. For years we have seen tree limbs come crashing down even in a moderate wind. In fact in the last four months two trees side-by-side on Caldwell Avenue just west of 80th Street have lost major limbs, three times and yet Parks doesn’t send anyone around to prune them. It’s not that they don’t want to prune, they can’t because of limited personnel and resources.
The large stately trees on Eliot Avenue are beautiful but they are in dire need of pruning and many of them are an accident waiting to happen. Ask homeowner Anthony Macchirole. In 2001 after a tree limb crashed through his car’s windshield (which was parked in his driveway) he called Forestry who told him his tree was pruned eight years ago and was not due. “I can’t remember the last time my tree was pruned, it certainly wasn’t eight years ago,” he said. Two years later a limb crashed on his car again smashing his back window and trunk. Still the tree was not pruned.
While walking around the neighborhood it seems that every block has several trees in dire need of pruning. One person described the trees on his block as a ticking time bomb. Meanwhile Anthony Macchirole has to park his car as the wind blows.
The Juniper Park Civic Association has made tree pruning a top priority since it endangers everyone. We will lobby our elected officials to work on a comprehensive plan to identify dangerous trees and branches and have them put on an emergency pruning list.
Several desperate residents have tried to chop street trees down or prune the trees in front of their homes. Some were caught in the act and all were heavily fined. The fines incurred are measured by the diameter of the tree trunk. So if you were to destroy a large tree you could be facing a fine of over $10,000.
If you do prune a tree it must by a licensed pruning specialist.