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Life for some Dyker Heights residents is the pits — thanks to the city’s obsession with tree pits.
That’s the assessment of some who are barking their dismay over the city’s plan to put new saplings in front of their homes — whether they want them or not.
Oh, and don’t think that homeowners can appeal the city’s decision to put an unwanted tree in front of their house, because they can’t.
These tree planting practices are part of the mayor’s promise to bring one million new trees to the five boroughs by 2017.
While many applaud the decision, a handful of residents living on 80th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues are outraged that the city is planning to put a tree in front of their home, which they do not want or need and will reduce walking space on sidewalks in front of their homes.
Their ongoing fight was highlighted at Tuesday’s meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, where three residents of 80th Street said that they never requested the tree to be put in front of their home.
Someone else, possibly a neighbor, thought that their part of the block could use some greenery and the city was eager to oblige, they explained.
“Apparently it’s a policy that anyone can ask for a tree to go up,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. “But these residents don’t want the tree because it will cut their sidewalk in half.”
The sidewalk on 80th Street is not that wide to begin with, the three residents complained, adding that that the tree pit, which is slated to be dug in the next few weeks, will go smack dab right where they put out their garbage for collection.
Vella-Marrone said that the Dyker Heights Civic Association is rallying behind the three residents, although they’re lost in a forest of red tape.
“Personally, I like tree…I think they’re a good thing and add a lot of quality,” she said. “But if there is going to be a plan where the city is going to put a tree in every spot they can, it should be done in a different matter.”
“You’re going to get neighbors that are upset with each requesting trees for each other,” the Dyker Heights Civic Association president added. “You can’t have people haphazardly asking the city to plant trees.”
While the three residents attending last week’s Dyker Heights meeting are the only ones in the community voicing their outrage, Vella-Marrone said that she has heard “general rumblings” against the city’s new tree-planting policy.
When contacted, a city Parks Department spokesperson said that the tree plantings “do not require homeowner consent.”
“All one has to do is call 311 and request a tree,” he said. “Once we inspect the site and see if it’s a suitable spot, you can receive one.”
Shying away from commenting on their “tough noogies” approach about greening the city, the spokesman said that the complaints like the ones coming out of Dyker Heights are rare.
“Mostly, all the feedback has been positive,” he said.
City officials said that their tree planting plan will transform the five boroughs “into beautiful greenscapes.”
The city will be planting 60 percent of the trees on streets, in parks and in other public spaces. The other 40 percent will be planted by private organizations, homeowners and community organizations.
The trees, they said, will “improve air quality” and “contribute to a healthier and more sustainable environment.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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