PPPA can claim victory on trees

Work crews are seen here digging the pits for the posts of a new guardrail on Pelham Parkway on Tues. Feb. 19. The guardrails will co-exist with rows of mature trees on the parkway, instead of replacing them.
Photo by Patrick Rocchio
by Patrick Rocchio

The fight to save Pelham Parkway’s mature trees has succeeded.

No trees will likely need to be removed due to the installation of new guardrails during the latest phase of the parkway’s reconstruction, officials said at a technical working group meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 13 between the Department of Design and Construction and the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance.

Joe Menta and George Zulch, two activists involved in the PPPA’s push to save mature trees along the parkway, both confirmed the good news.

The PPPA held protests against large-scale tree removal, beginning in 2010.

“I believe that in our persistence in working with the DDC and others, we were fortunate enough to save these trees,” said Menta, who attended the meeting.

The technical working group meetings between the PPPA, Community Board 11, and DDC were the result of a settlement of a lawsuit brought against the city by the PPPA.

The DDC had initially said that installing guardrails would have required 42 mostly mature trees to be removed.

“I’m pleased to report that in cooperation with the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance, our engineers have devised a creative way to install much-needed guardrails along the Parkway without removing any trees,” said DDC commissioner David Burney. “This result is truly the best of all worlds, and it shows what can be accomplished when government and concerned citizens work together to tackle tough problems.”

Burney added: “The Pelham Parkway reconstruction project is a substantial city investment that will give area residents and motorists a safe, functional, and attractive streetscape that will benefit the neighborhood for years to come.”

A DDC spokesman said plans call for five trees to come down for construction of new on and off ramps – four for an off-ramp at Lurting Avenue and one for an on-ramp at Stillwell Avenue.

But Zulch said that those trees being removed, along with about 26 to 30 diseased or dying trees that are already gone, cannot be helped.

Menta, Zulch, and community leader David Varenne were among the key members of the PPPA.

Menta said that the group is planning a celebration of what it considers a successful outcome to what was at times was a furious fight to save the parkway’s trees.

“The end result is a fine roadway with guardrails which are consistent with the Parkway aesthetic theme, and meet the safety standards,” said Zulch, “yet allow for the continuation of the rows of magnificent 100-year-old lindens which so characterize the Parkway and enhance our neighborhood.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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