Pol To Parks Dept.: Hurry Tree Removal
By Megan Montalvo
|Out of 15,432 downed trees reported in New York City, 5,615 occurred in Queens. Throughout the Borough, chunks of sidewalks were littered across City streets due to the uprooted trees.
Photo by Megan Montalvo
With reports of more than 15,000 downed trees throughout the City as a result of Superstorm Sandy and Nor’Easter Athena, the aftermath has many local residents begging the question: when will we fully cleanup?
According to Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, the answer is “months” from now.
In a recent news report, Lewandowski said, “People might be frustrated by the backlog but it really tells us what’s going on out there. We certainly have our challenges before us. It will take a few months before we fully clean up.”
Since making the statement, Parks Dept. officials have revealed that 3,906 of the 5,615 work orders created for downed trees in Queens have been completed.
But, for the hundreds of neighbors in the heavily-affected areas of the Borough, work may still not moving fast enough.To raise concerns about the time table, State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) issued a letter to Lewandowski.
“I recognize that clearing streets and roadways is a priority and that crews from outside New York City have been brought in to help with the removal of fallen trees,” Peralta wrote. “I am also aware that completing some of your work is contingent on Con Edison clearing sites of electrical hazards. That fully cleaning up will take ‘months,’ however, strikes me as an inordinately long time frame.”
Although the Parks Dept. has yet to respond to Peralta, representatives have confirmed that Queens has indeed suffered the brunt of the damage from both storms.
“Queens suffered considerable tree damage and we’re working swiftly to correct the problems,” said Philip Abramson, a spokesman for the Parks Dept. “Parks crews are working around the clock to address the considerable damage wrought by these storms and will continue to do so.”
In addition to working to minimize the total number of downed trees, as of Nov. 15, the Parks Dept. completed 2,094 of the 3,297 work orders created for tree limbs down in Queens.
This number joins another 595 completed work orders for the 1,348 hanging limbs that were called into 311 post-Sandy and Athena.
Despite the repairs however, Peralta said that given the coming winter season, the biggest issue with the months-long time frame is yet to come.
“There are many sidewalks that were badly damaged by uprooted trees in my district and throughout Queens,” he said. “Until the tree stump and roots are removed, they cannot be repaired. Come snowfall, this could potentially be disastrous. It’s an accident waiting to happen.”
As he continues to await a precise timeframe for completion, Peralta urged residents with downed trees and other problems to continue to call 311.
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or email@example.com.