Neighbors Demanding That The Parks Department Trim Dangerous Trees

The tall trees that line East 17th Street (Source: Google Maps)
The tall trees that line East 17th Street (Source: Google Maps)

In Midwood, the tree-lined streets are cherished for the touch of nature they bring to the otherwise concrete jungle known as New York City. Still, they do need to be properly maintained for safety’s sake and the Parks Department’s apparent failure to do so has angered Midwood residents worried that their children might get hurt by falling limbs. The New York Daily News is reporting that residents that live on East 17th Street by Avenue M and Avenue N have been complaining to the Parks Department for years to manicure the trees, but have received little help.

Judy Barides, who has eight children, is one of the parents who fears for her children’s safety.

“I’ve been after the city for over a year now. Four massive branches have fallen on this block. It wasn’t rainy, it wasn’t windy, just out of the blue. I don’t let my kids play there anymore,” Barides told the Daily News.

The trees have already caused their fair share of damage, striking fear in strolling pedestrians:

The leafy, tree-lined block between Aves. M and N has several massive, 100-year-old Dutch elms, says Anne Marie Sabol. She guesses she’s complained to the city at least 15 times in the past four years as have other neighbors, “So many times, it’s ridiculous,” she said.
In February, a 33-foot limb crashed down onto a neighbor’s car, totaling it. The branch wasn’t removed for weeks. Last week, a 9-foot long limb came crashing down just as two women walked by, stunning them Sabol says.
“Someone will have to die in front of my house or my neighbor’s house before someone comes and they act on it,” Sabol said.
She called 311 immediately after the most recent incident and filed two more complaints about the dangerous tree limbs. The city told her to expect an inspection within 30 days.

The Daily News noted that, in Brooklyn, there are 2,200 outstanding tree complaints. Prompted by the Daily News, the Parks Department claims that they will be visiting East 17th Street within 30 days for the first time in five years to remove dangerous trees and prune others.

Despite all the promised action, not all residents are convinced that their requests will be heeded. Irwin Sternglantz, another East 17th Street resident, expressed such cynicism to the Daily News.

“The city’s attitude is ‘yeah, okay, we’ll see,’ and when there’s a tragedy, then everybody gets revved up and they do something. Until a tragedy occurs, they sleep,” Sternglantz said.

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