Elected officals ask for community input on Technical Group

A large group of elected officials are questioning plans by the Department of Design and Construction to evaluate the removal of 80 trees during the Pelham Parkway reconstruction, and are calling for more community involvement.

On Monday, August 23, a joint letter was sent to Mayor Bloomberg from six elected officials asking that he incorporate community voices on a newly formed DDC panel called the Technical Working Group.

The group includes architects and arborists who will examine each tree and decide if each really needs to be removed during the construction. The elected officials would like to see three members of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance on this committee.

They also requested that the city address former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern’s assertion that an alternate guardrail design could save a dozen trees, consider redesigning the sewer reconstruction project on Pelham Parkway South service road in an effort to save other healthy trees, and revaluate the decision to remove 30 to 40 trees designated by the Parks Department as mature or diseased.

Congressman Joseph Crowley, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca all signed the letter.

“Pelham Parkway and its surrounding natural beauty is truly a Bronx treasure,” Crowley said. “While improvements to pedestrian safety and vehicle safety on the parkway are needed, it is also important to explore every option to save as many trees as possible.”

The letter comes after four months of protests against removing at least 50 healthy, mature trees during the two-year, $36 million reconstruction project.

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