An emergency press conference was held at the site of the former St. Saviour's Church in Maspeth yesterday to denounce the cutting of more than 170 trees present on the sacred site.
The Juniper Park Civic Association has been lobbying to have the parcel of land turned into a park and community center for more than a year and a half.
The devastation was hard to stomach.
Councilman Tony Avella joined the crowd to express outrage over what the developer did out of spite. He vowed as chair of the city council's zoning committee to reject the developer's application for a zoning change from manufacturing to residential in order to build 70+ housing units on the property.
Neighbors who attended expressed understandable shock, sadness and anger at Councilman Gallagher's role in the cutting and Mayor Bloomberg's refusal to save the trees while he continues to boast about how he plans to “green” the city.
The anger turned into hope and positive energy as speaker after speaker vowed to continue to keep fighting to save this open space and convert it into a park for the community.
At the conclusion of the press conference, attendees gathered at the site of a fallen tree trunk that was placed in the street to reserve parking for the arboreal crew. This was believed to be the oldest tree on the site.
This three-year old boy is pointing to the smallest ring on the tree, which likely represents a date close to 200 years ago.
After the crowd dispersed, members of the JPCA took a cross-cut of the trunk so that the rings could be counted.
Shortly after they left the scene, they were called back by residents frantic over the reappearance of a tree cutting service.
The cutters were on the eastern end of the property cutting down the trees there, allowing limbs to rain down onto the sidewalk and damaging cars parked in the street.
The truck containing the cherry picker was obstructing traffic flow.
Nests of birds and squirrels were clearly visible in the trees that were targeted.
Residents stood under the cherry picker, forcing the operator to lower it to the ground.
A confrontation took place.
The police were called to the scene and issued a slew of summonses to the company and forced them to vacate.
It was noted that the truck had its DOT # scratched off of it.
The sanitation department also responded and issued a $300 ticket to the property owner for the tree trunks on the sidewalk & street.
The workers left, taking 160 years of Maspeth's natural history with them.
The arson watch is now on. Where is Dennis Gallagher? In hiding. Where is Mayor Bloomberg? Catering to the needs of communities he actually cares about while he turns his back on the salt of the earth.