PPPA, Parks work together to save parkway trees

These trees are the ones the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance is itrying to protect.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A local conservation group is working with city officials to review tree removal and replenishment during a major highway construction project.

A representative of the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance and a NYC Parks Department representative walked Pelham Parkway on Monday, November 7 to examine trees that are scheduled for removal due to the parkway’s upcoming north side reconstruction, or because they are diseased or damaged, confirmed a PPPA leader, George Zulch.

PPPA leaders met with borough commissioners from NYC Department of Transportation, NYC Department of Design and Construction and Parks at Community Board 11 on Wednesday, October 26 to discuss creating a collaborative working relationship when it comes to the fate of the trees on the parkway during the north-side reconstruction, said John Fratta, CB 11’s administrative business promotion coordinator.

“They did agree to what we had on the south side reconstruction, having a tree task force set up,” said Fratta. “Before any tree is removed, the Parks Department is going to meet with the alliance to see if the tree can be saved.”

Fratta said that CB 11 is pleased that the PPPA is going to have a working relationship with the city, and added that he believes fewer trees will ultimately be removed during construction, a similar dynamic that happened when the south side was reconstructed.

Phase two of the reconstruction of Pelham Parkway, including Pelham Parkway North and Pelham Parkway West, includes a new water main, a select bus service lane, dedicated left turn lanes and new sidewalks and ramps, according to DDC.

Eleven trees are slated to be removed as part of this phase for the infrastructure improvements: four for sewers, five for guardrails, and one each for a water main and bus stop, said Fratta.

The Parks Department also requested that another 34 trees be removed because they are compromised, he said.

Zulch said that during the walk with a Parks’ representative it appears that the department’s reasons for tree removal so far, based on the trees he already saw, is sensible.

These trees are being removed because of the health of the tree or because they are damaged, he said.

A second walk-thru to examine many of the parkway trees in question, planned for Wednesday, November 9, was rescheduled.

Zulch said that the focus of the PPPA might shift to making sure that the city follows through on its pledge, and looking toward the long-term preservation of the urban forest and replenishing trees for the future.

“Pelham Parkway’s forestry is an urban resource,” said Zulch. “It is historical, and it has to be preserved for so many reasons for our area.”

Zulch said that Pelham Parkway could be eligible for some kind of historical site status, and that a key to the future will be restocking the trees with new plantings.

A spokesman for the Parks Department stated that “NYC Parks has an open line of communication with the PPPA.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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