Sisters, Servants of Mary: “Please, no more trees!”

Sister Servants of May already has eight trees and numerous large bushes and shrubs on its property, very close to its property line.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

A Bronx convent says, “please – no more trees!”

Religious organization Sisters, Servants of Mary, located at 3305 Country Club Road, is currently fighting the city’s plan to plant five new trees in the sidewalk area directly in front of their property.

This may not seem like a big issue – but the Sisters, Servants of Mary parcel already has eight trees, along with other large bushes and shrubs, not far from the front property line.

Each tree plot would require the removal of two concrete slabs, measuring out to about eight feet by three feet.

Potential tree pits are already marked in white paint.

According to the convent, the tree plantings would crowd the area and require more maintenance by the Sisters, Servants of Mary to keep the sidewalks clean when the trees drop its leaves.

“Planting these trees would be a liability – especially for an organization that does not charge for their services or receive financial aid from the city, state or church ,” said Cathy Praino, president of the auxiliary for the Sisters, Servants of Mary, who received a call from Mother Superior last month regarding the plan, after Mother Superior had seen tree plot markings.

“These women do not have the money to pay a service to cleanup after the trees – and since they are all older women, they would be unable to take care of it themselves.”

Praino, who worked for the NYC Parks Department for nearly 30 years, said that since the beginning of May, she has reached out to her park contacts, including NYC Parks first deputy commissioner Liam Kavanagh as well as Mayor de Blasio’s office, yielding a minimal response and scant replies.

Sisters, Servants of Mary cared for Praino’s mother at her home before she passed away in the early 1980s.

“It is not going to look good if five more trees are planted on the sidewalk. They should plant them somewhere else,” said Sister Ema of Sisters, Servants of Mary. “We understand that the sidewalk is not our property, and we don’t want to give off the impression that we don’t think trees are a good addition to a neighborhood, but it is going to be way too crowded if those trees are planted.

According to the Parks Department, the agency reviewed the location and has already determined that the location is unsuitable for new trees due to the lush shrubbery and trees that already exist on the convent property.

Sisters, Servants of Mary is a Spanish order of nurses that has cared for the sick, dying and elderly in their own homes since 1931.

The organization depends solely on donations that are raised from various events they host, including luncheons, golf outings and plant sales, among others.

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