26 sick trees on Pelham Parkway to go

Trees that are diseased and dying are being axed out of the picture as reconstruction of Pelham Parkway commences.

Before the 26 trees are axed by the Parks Department this week, Department of Design and Construction officials, a representative from the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit, members of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance and other city agencies met with former Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta who is assisting district manager Jeremy Warneke as the city begins construction.

The project has been in the works since 1986 and the meeting, a regularly scheduled update, took place at the CB 11 district office on Wednesday, March 23.

As part of an agreement between lawyers from the PPPA and the city to avert further legal action, it was originally agreed upon that 24 mature trees that were diseased and in poor health will be removed during the project, which should be finished in 2014.

The number has now been increased to 26 trees by the city, as the Parks Department found two more trees that were in poor condition, said DDC spokesman Craig Chin.

“We have trained staff, many of whom are certified arborists, who use the latest scientific and industry standards to evaluate trees based on the condition of their roots, trunks, and branches, large and small, and foliage,” said Parks Department first deputy commissioner Liam Kavanagh.

“Twenty-six trees that are in poor condition will be removed from Pelham Parkway in the next week or so and all have been inspected and approved for removal by a certified arborist.”

Members of the PPPA, which brought a lawsuit when city officials were not forthcoming in working with the group to preserve as many parkway trees as possible, accepted the removal of the diseased trees and those in poor condition, so long as the city sticks to its agreement to remove only up to 50 healthy trees when work begins on the main roadways in 2012.

“As part of our agreement with New York City, 26 diseased trees will come down, and a maximum of 50 healthy trees,” said PPPA cofounder Joe Menta. “

The group wants the city to reconsider the new guardrails DDC plans to use on Pelham Parkway, switching from a wood-backed style guardrail that blends in more with the natural environment, with one that needs less of a clearance between the roadway and the trees lining it, said PPPA member David Varenne.

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