Central Park Trees Cleared as City Sets Up for Marathon

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Runners in the New York City Marathon on Sunday will have a clear path through Central Park now that workers have cleared the roads of thousands of branches and trees that were downed by last weekend's nor'easter.

The storm affected over about 400 acres of the mostly southern end of the park below 86th street. That is the area of Central Park where the marathon course passes through and finishes.

Central Park Conservancy President Doug Blonsky said unfortunately more damaged trees may have to be cut down as the cleanup continues later this month.

"We're looking at potentially a lot of trees coming down in the long run. But right now it's just about making everything safe, taking out the trees that have to come out and then going back in after the marathon and just really looking at what other things are gonna need to be done."

Blonsky said the park's London Plane trees suffered the most damage because they have wide furry leaves which were extremely weighed down by the 3 inches of heavy wet snow. He added the removed brush will be put to good use. "That all becomes chips and mulch for people to be able to use so the parks department and the department of sanitation has been helping us haul it out they they've been taking it out to Randall's Island where they'll chip it out there as well," he said.

NYC Marathon spokesman Richard Finn said city agencies did a superb job cleaning up after the storm. "All the people stepped up in New York City," he said at Central Park early Thursday afternoon. "The race course is clean. It's ready."

He added race officials were lucky the storm didn't hit on the weekend of the race. "It would have been a spectacular shock," he said. "It would have been like playing in a blizzard in a football game."

The marathon runs through the five boroughs, starting in Staten Island and finishing on Central Park's West Drive near West 67th Street.

Downed trees in Central Park waiting to be picked up on Wednesday following a surprise October snowstorm. (Caitlyn Kim/WNYC)

With the Associated Press