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Parks Dept. Should Take Better Care of Trees Outside Parks: Comptroller

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On Sunday morning in Crown Heights, trees up and down Eastern Parkway had fallen due to Irene's winds. Crown Heights after a storm. (Mansoor Khan/WNYC)

New Yorkers on average file a claim a day for injuries or property damage caused by falling tree limbs and it's costing the city as much as $14 million a year.

That's partly because the city Department of Parks and Recreation is mismanaging the program to prune the 650,000 trees outside of parks and on city streets, said Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The department doesn't keep accurate lists of trees that need to be pruned, isn't inspecting work to make sure it's done, and is sometimes paying contractors to trim trees that don't need it, according to an audit Stringer’s office released Sunday.

Stringer discussed his audit at a press conference in Chelsea, the site of an injury due to a fallen branch that cost the city $4,000.

“I do not want to wake up another day to find out a tree has hurt somebody or caused real property damage because the parks department wasn't doing the right pruning, they weren't doing their job,” Stringer said.

The audit found problems in every borough’s pruning operations except for Queens, which Stringer praised for its efforts.

The parks department disputed that it mismanaged the pruning program, but agreed to provide greater oversight, according to a letter the department submitted to the Comptroller's Office.

Phyllis Waisman, a member of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, said she’s noticed that the parks department has had a hard time in recent years keeping up with watering and pruning.

“We've been seeing an increase in the number of dead trees around the city, which we report to get tree replacements, but the problem is the after care once the trees are planted,” Waisman said.

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Comments [3]

Betty Hunter from Brooklyn Crown Heights

For the past 4+ years I've tried getting help for my neighbor whose a senior with a heart condition. The trees in her back yard are extremely tall and are in danger of falling. My neighbor has explained to me that she does not have the necessary money to have the trees removed.

I've contacted Tish James office and have been waiting for an answer for more than a month. I've spoken with 311 a few times, but am always told there's nothing that can be done because of the location of the trees.

Every time there's a rain or wind storm I stand in my kitchen window and watch the largest tree dancing back and forth. It's dangerous and can cause much trouble if not handled soon.

Hope you can offer some helpful information.

Thanks,
Betty

Aug. 18 2014 10:48 AM
Bonn

The parks dept installed trees on my block which already have tall trees nearby so that there I will be no room for the new trees to grow. Very bad planning and a total waste.

Aug. 18 2014 10:05 AM
I live in a leaky HPD built coop from Every boro

Scott Stringer is a piece of work and a big monday morning quarterback. Meanwhile when he was Borough President he did nothing to assist the Parks Dept. when it came to understanding of homeowners need to maintain the trees on their properties and if there is a city owned tree which needs trimming to alert the property authorities. Now the real issue is that HPD needs to be audited and our housing stock is crumbling. I'm sure we we will find Stringer on election day sleeping with the Rev. Al Sharpton in some poorly maintained NYCHA housing unit so he can say these conditions are terrible. The city needs better oversight when it comes to NYCHA and HPD, yet Stringer failed to make any headway when he was an Assembly Member,Community Board Member, Borough President and now as Comptroller it's all after the fact and just common sense stuff he is doing, and press release spin. Yet, homeowners are being screwed by REBNY who is one of her donors and all the big deveopers.

Aug. 18 2014 08:00 AM

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