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City must overhaul tree maintenance

TimesLedger Newspapers

An open letter to Mayor Bloomberg:

I am writing once again to highlight the failure of the city and the city Parks Department to properly maintain city trees.

It was evident from Hurricane Sandy that most of the damage, other than direct flooding, was the cause of downed trees. As you know, the fallen trees caused fatalities, severe damage to homes and properties and caused a significant portion of power outages.

It is outrageous that the city continues the policy goal of planting a million trees while there is an inability to properly maintain the trees currently planted throughout the city.

Almost every homeowner I spoke to who has damage as the result of a city tree indicated that he or she had been trying to get the city to remove or prune the tree for years.

The city needs to do a better job at maintaining the trees that are already planted and, going forward, there needs to be a concrete plan in place to address this serious problem.

I recommend the following actions be taken immediately:

• Form a Tree Policy Review Committee comprised of independent arborists to evaluate current tree maintenance rules and regulations.

• Immediately and temporarily halt the million tree planting program until such time as new rules and procedures are put into place.

• Purchase necessary equipment for tree maintenance.

• Increase funding for tree pruning to accommodate a five-year pruning schedule.

• Eliminate the policy of not removing a living tree.

• Provide funding to eliminate the back log of stump removals.

• Establish “shelf life” for various tree species.

• Acknowledge responsibility for damages to homeowners’ sewer and water lines by city tree roots.

• Provide proper funding for the Tree and Sidewalk repair program and expand it to include cooperatives and condominiums.

• Allow homeowners to prune trees in front of their homes.

I would appreciate your reviewing my suggestions and letting me know how the city will change its tree policies so damages from future storms as the result of downed city trees will be lessened.

I cannot overemphasize the seriousness of this issue. You must take action.

Tony Avella

State Senator

(D-Bayside)

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