‘So far, so good’ on Pelham Parkway’s next phase

This very old elm tree along Pelham Parkway West near Williamsbridge Road was saved, according to the PPPA, as a result of the group working with DDC.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

The city and a preservation group agreed to save several stately trees during Pelham Parkway’s upcoming Phase 2 reconstruction.

The project will rebuild the parkways’ two westbound roadways, and add a variety of improvements.

After consultation with grassroots conservation organization Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance, more than 40 trees will be lost due to disease, damage or construction, according to alliance leaders.

However, PPPA officials, who initiated legal action against the city to save trees during the project’s Phase 1, now report that they have walked the parkway with city officials and reviewed all trees that were planned for removal as part of Phase 2, said PPPA activist George Zulch.

The result of this examination is the saving of approximately seven trees, said Zulch, including an elm tree near a bus stop just west of Williamsbridge Road on Pelham Parkway West that may be 150-years-old.

The city reviewed and reconsidered tree removal in several cases, he said.

In the case of the elm, city officials moved the bus stop a bit to accommodate the tree, he said.

“We think that they are very proactive and forward- looking in working together with us,” said Zulch of the NYC Department of Design and Constriction, the agency in charge of the project. “They understand the importance of preserving the parkway along with doing…the reconstruction.”

Currently, the DDC and PPPA have a “good working relationship,” said Zulch, though he did qualify by saying “anything can happen” during the project.

His PPPA colleague, Joseph Menta, said he was pleased that the city has agreed to save so many trees that otherwise would be gone.

He said of the DDC/PPPA relationship: “so far, so good.”

“Trees that were slated for removal are going to stay, which is a victory in and of itself,” said Menta, though he added: “We still need to be vigilant.”

John Fratta, Community Board 11’s liaison for the parkway project, said that the board wanted to make sure that this second phase did not fall into the same hole as it did in Phase 1, which rebuilt the parkways’ south-side.

Fratta said CB 11 worked to ensure that the PPPA had a seat at the table during Phase 2, he said, and made other stipulations that were conditional for CB 11’s support for Phase 2, making sure DDC understood “the concerns of the community board and alliance were real and needed to be addressed.”

Fratta said he believes that after much concern during Phase 1, the city has decided on a different approach this time.

A DDC spokeswoman stated that the agency would continue to work with the community, PPPA, Department of Environmental Protection, NYC Parks, and NYC Department of Transportation to ensure successful project completion.

“While field conditions can be unpredictable, during the design phase, we have taken every step possible to save as many trees as we can during construction, she stated. “Once a contractor is selected and registered, we anticipate mobilizing by mid-summer 2017.”

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

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