Community Board 11 objects to roadway removal during Pelham Parkway Phase 2 reconstruction

The plan is to remove this elm tree on Pelham Parkway West near Williamsbridge Road during the north side reconstruction. The Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance is fighting to keep it.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

Community support for the reconstruction of the northside of Pelham Parkway is slipping over items that have been around 100 years.

The objections arose when the city proposed closing an access street and removing a majestic tree as part of the project.

The city’s plan to remove the small roadway and return it to green parkland is scheduled for Phase 2 of Pelham Parkway’s reconstruction.

The NYC Department of Design and Construction is heading the project that will run from 2017 to 2019.

Also, the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance has raised concerns about the planned removal of a Civil War-era elm tree next to a bus stop just west of Williamsbridge Road, according to John Fratta, CB 11 administrative manager, who handles community concerns regarding this project.

“Both issues are basically non-starters for us,” said Fratta, adding the community by and large agrees with the rest of the project.

CB 11 voted unanimously to name the 200-foot section of roadway near the New York Institute for Special Education that links a Pelham Parkway service road with westbound Pelham Parkway as Paulding Avenue, in support of the community.

The vote took place at a full board meeting on Thursday, June 23. In order for the CB 11 street naming plan to move forward, the NYC City Council would have to approve it, and the street portion would then have to be alienated by the state legislature to remove it from NYC Department of Parks and Recreation jurisdiction.

“That’s been a street for over a 100 years, before the Parks Department even existed,” said Fratta about the road. “People use that street, the NYC Department of Transportation put a stop sign there and it is paved, so for anyone to say it is not a street is nonsense.”

Councilman James Vacca said he supports the CB 11 proposal, adding that in order for it to work, approval will be needed in two consecutive state legislative sessions.

Senator Jeff Klein said in a statement that he looks forward to working with the city and state legislatures to make sure the community needs are met on both issues.

PPPA has information indicating the elm tree will be felled because the city plans to move the bus stop within feet of the tree, further west, said Joe Menta.

“We are very adamant that the tree stays,” said Menta, adding “That tree has stood the test of time, and escaped Dutch Elm disease, and I think we owe it to the tree to have it remain.”

As an alternative, he believes that instead of moving the bus stop further west, the city could move it a block away.

According to a source familiar with the Pelham Parkway reconstruction plan, the elm tree in question is within the area of the exiting bus stop, and that trees are usually grandfathered in, but an engineer’s report recommended the tree’s removal for road safety reasons. The tree’s girth prevents a guardrail installation at the location.

A DDC spokeswoman stated that the city agencies involved in Pelham Parkway’s Phase 2 reconstruction would review the plan.

According to DDC, Pelham Parkway’s Phase 2 reconstruction includes a new trunk water main, a select bus service lane, dedicated left turn lanes and wheelchair accessible sidewalks and ramps.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
This road linking Pelham Parkway North and Pelham Parkway West was the subject of a Community Board 11 vote. The board wants to name it Paulding Avenue.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

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