The Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance is gearing up for its first working-group meeting in which the “save the parkway trees” organizers plan to hash out with the city which trees are going to come down.
A lawsuit filed by the Pelham Parkway Perservation Alliance in 2010 won the group, which is committed to saving as many trees as possible, a 50-tree limit on trees removed during the reconstruction on the main roadways in the $36 million reconstruction project. The PPPA also won the right to take part in technical working group meetings where alliance leaders Joseph Menta, George Zulch, and Dave Varenne will sit down with the Parks Department, Department of Design and Construction, and Department of Transportation, with the first meeting taking place on Wednesday, April 4, Menta said.
“Apparently, at this meeting all agencies involved in the project will be represented,” Menta said. “We are going to be bringing a certified arborist and engineers with us.”
The group is looking to have the DDC consider guardrail alternatives, because the guardrails that may be installed require a two foot clearance between the guardrail and any trees along the parkway, Menta said.
The ultimate goal should be to reduce the amount mature trees from the cap limit of 50 trees to the lowest amount possible, Zulch said.
“There is a cap of 50 trees in the settlement document and our aim, goal and purpose is to get that number down as low as we can,” Zulch said. “I would like to see it down near 30 if I could, because 50 is way too many mature trees. We want to get the city to hold to the document from the settlement, where the city showed it would be flexible.”
The number of healthy trees being cut down can be reduced by carefully determining where the guardrail lines will end, Varenne said.
According to accident data that the PPPA was able to obtain from the police department on all accidents on Pelham Parkway from May 2000 to May 2010, only 2 percent of accidents involved trees, while 70 percent occurred at intersections and 28 percent were caused by a variety of other things, Zulch said.
Former Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta, who has stayed on at the board to supervise its involvement in the Pelham Parkway reconstruction project, said that one of the overall goals of the project is to increase safety.
“We all want to see trees, and I don’t think that there is anyone with half a brain who would want to see the parkway voided of trees, because they are what makes the parkway beautiful,” Fratta said. “But if it comes down to the life of a person or the life of the tree, I say remove the tree.”
The parkway has problems with flooding, which should be corrected, Fratta said. Without guardrails that protect drivers, it could create a very hazardous situation for motorists, Fratta said.
“They (PPPA) will review each tree that is scheduled to come down, and I think even the PPPA knows that a number of trees would have to be removed, but they want to make sure that the city does not take the easy route and just remove trees,” Fratta said.
Originally, before the PPPA’s actions, the DDC estimated 70 trees would have to fall. The DDC will also be planting 246 new trees that are larger than saplings, Fratta said.