The first 46 of 246 trees to be planted during the Pelham Parkway Reconstruction are now taking root on the borough’s greenest thoroughfare.
Crews for the Department of Design and Construction began planting the trees on Wednesday, April 18, fulfilling DDC’s commitment under the settlement to a lawsuit filed by the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance to save as many trees as possible and get trees planted earlier in the project, said DDC spokesman Craig Chin.
Originally, all of the trees were to be planted after construction on the main roadways - Phase One - was completed. But as part of the PPPA settlement, 46 trees away from where main roadway construction will take place were planted earlier, Chin stated.
“It was one of the agreements that settled the lawsuit, so in the areas that we can plant, we are going to plant now,” Chin said. “Other areas, like where we are constructing the slip ramp, are going to have to wait.”
The planting takes advantage of the spring planting season, with red oak, accolade elms, sawtooth oaks, malus harvest gold, and white pines, Chin said.
One of the settlement stipulations is that the trees planted be at least 4 inches diameter.
The plantings were on the mall, which separates the main east and west bound roadways, and first began near the eastern end of the parkway at Stillwell Avenue.
So far, the city has stuck to its agreement in terms of planting some of the saplings earlier in the $36 million project, said David Varenne, a founding member of the PPPA.
“This project is supposed to take two years, but with unforeseen delays and what have you, to get them in the ground now is something tangible and concrete,” Varenne said. “We can start to enjoy the benefits of them immediately.”
But questions remain over how many mature trees may have to be cut down to install new guardrails, he said, citing 50 trees still in danger.
As part of the settlement, the city can remove up to 50 mature trees along the parkway to complete work. Originally, that number had been 70 trees.
“The fight is not over,” Varenne said.