Want a better NYC? More trees, please – New York Daily News


As fall arrives in New York, changing the color of the leaves and lowering the temperature and (hopefully) our Con Ed bills, I reflect on the value of the trees and the terrible floods my neighborhood and others have recently experienced. suffered. Average precipitation and heavy precipitation are expected to increase in the coming years.

Trees serve many purposes in a city. They beautify, provide shade, absorb rainwater, cool a space, produce oxygen and fight climate change. No wonder Joyce Kilmer wrote a famous poem about them in 1913, simply titled “Trees.” Kilmer’s lyric – “I think I’ll never see / A poem fair as a tree.” – both celebrates trees and laments the fact that nothing mankind creates can match the beauty of nature. Like many New Yorkers, Kilmer’s Catholicism has largely influenced his worldview. But the theme is universal.

Kilmer may have been right, and we can’t create something as beautiful as a tree, but we are certainly capable, with all the resources in our town, of placing and maintaining the town’s trees wisely. . We must rely on our New York Department of Parks and Recreation to fulfill our requests.

Projects planned and carried out by the Department of Parks and Recreation are often slow and costly. For example, to renovate an existing men’s and women’s bathroom in Juniper Valley Park, the Parks Department estimated a cost of $3.8 million. Because I consider parks the gems of my neighborhood, I have no choice but to pay.

I agree about the wondrous natural beauty of trees with Kilmer, who said that trees look to God all day and raise their leafy arms in prayer. But their price doesn’t have to be heavenly. I found out during a recent hearing with the Department of Parks that the current price for planting a city tree is $3,500. There must be a way to reduce the cost. I’m not throwing shade at our park department, but Jersey City only pays $500 to plant a city tree. We do all the biggest and best in the Big Apple, for the price of gold, but I don’t think it’s taking a chance saying that $3,500 to plant a tree is nonsense.

The trees in the city are also not planted quickly. It may take up to three years to complete the application process, starting with a location survey. There’s also quite a backlog, with only a few thousand trees the Parks Department can plant each season. A determined tree lover with the money can jump ahead by make a donation at least $1,800 to a charity called City Parks Foundation. But aside from corporate donors, how many of us can afford it with our own wallets?

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As a civic leader, I had to branch out to become a hobby arborist and learn where to plant trees and how to keep them healthy. This involves the Parks Department maintaining them in a variety of ways, including repairing, fertilizing, watering, pruning, and safely disposing of any dead or diseased trees.

The root of the tree damage problem is often improper tree placement. Poor placement coupled with poor maintenance leads to dead or dying trees that are more fragile and dangerous, breaking more easily during a storm. It’s very common in our town. Kilmer would be appalled.

It can turn green decoration trees into deadly weapons, drop like bombs and hit like missiles, bring down power lines, destroy property and worse. Much of this danger can be avoided through careful choice of planting locations and maintenance.

It is encouraging that Mayor Adams discussed a new Million Trees initiative and the possibility of dedicating 1% of the city budget to the parks department, which would help with the backlog. But at the current rate, a million trees will really sap the budget.

Not all New Yorkers understand the importance of trees and green spaces. Some have even paved their lawns and removed healthy trees. With such expensive parking, it’s understandable. But properties with grass and trees help mitigate climate change and flooding, which have become a terrible problem in Queens. The city’s 5.2 million trees, including 592,130 on city streets, drain an estimated 890 million gallons of stormwater each year. Among other ways to mitigate flooding, such as expanding sewer capacity, more trees and less cement would help.

I will continue to work with Mayor Adams and Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue to bring more city trees, rain gardens, maintenance and other measures to our neighborhoods and address issues regarding our parks. We also need an enforcement against illegal paving on lawns. As Kilmer wrote, “only God can make a tree”. But New York can wisely plant and nurture them.

Holden represents Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and parts of Ridgewood, Woodhaven and Woodside on city council.

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