Parkway Advocates hold 1st fundraiser

The Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance held its first fundraiser, and organizers hope the organization that has been fighting to preserve Pelham Parkway’s trees can become a permanent non-profit to advocate for the parkway.

A group of about 30 supporters of saving Pelham Parkway’s mature trees from the ax held the fundraiser at the Williambridge Bar & Grill at 2107 Williambridge Road on Monday, November 1. Their attorney William Madonna was at the fundraiser dinner, as was Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman Jimmy Vacca.

The group has won an injunction in court on any further tree removal or construction along the parkway. Construction was to start this fall as part of a two-year, $36 million reconstruction project. The PPPA wants the city to agree to specifically indicate which trees are to be removed, and to put it in writing.

The PPPA’s main organizers, George Zulch, David Varenne, and Joseph Menta thanked the community for helping them win the injunction. The group is concerned about the slated removal of more than 70 mature trees during the installation of guard rails. They are not against the parkway improvements, members said.

“I think everyone is trying to find the common ground here,” Zulch said. “We want to see the trees preserved, and we want that stated in an absolute way in writing. We also want to get the project moving forward.”

Zulch said that the group is looking to have a say in terms of what species of trees are included in a planting effort along the parkway that is part of the project. He said that the PPPA’s goal is to raise consciousness about the reconstruction.

“People have to have direct involvement in their community, or it will be the downfall of Pelham Parkway,” Zulch said. “I hope that we can come to an agreement and things are equitably resolved. But no matter what happens, the trees need to be preserved now and into the future.”

Menta added that the group plans on getting schoolchildren from P.S. 83 involved in a tree-naming project along the parkway, to personalize the issue for children who are concerned about the parkway. P.S. 83 6th grade teacher Lynne Greco, who attended the fundraiser, said that she plans to hold a tree-naming ceremony on the Parkway before the weather gets too cold. The tree-naming suggestion was Joe Menta’s, she said.

“I think this kind of civic involvement teaches kids values,” Greco said. “Many are neighborhood children who are really enthusiastic about this.”

Menta said that he hopes the PPPA becomes a permanent fixture in advocating for the Pelham Parkway community. He believes Pelham Parkway is not receiving adequate attention from the city.

Madonna said that city officials have approached Vacca about making a deal. Vacca addressed the crowd, saying he was cautiously optimistic.

“I think this shows how people are committed to saving trees along Pelham Parkway,” Vacca said. “These people are not against progress, but would like the city to save as many trees as possible.”

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