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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

City to chop trees with roots in Kingsbridge Heights

By Adam Wisnieski
Posted

In a city where planting has become a priority, agencies may hack down more than 150 trees growing around the Jerome Park Reservoir.  

The Department of Parks and Recreation, along with the Department of Environmental Protection, plans to cut down as many as 211 trees. The agencies say that roughly half of the trees, 77, must be removed because they are compromising the health of an earthen dam in Fort Independence Park and another 80 or more will need to be felled because they compromise the safety of a retaining wall along Sedgwick Avenue and the installation of a jogging path around half the reservoir.

According to a resolution passed by the City Council last year, replacement trees need to add up to every inch of wood that is removed, which  means the city will be required to plant a forest in Community Board 8 in exchange for what it cuts down.

At a July 28 Croton Filtration Monitoring Committee meeting, Frank McCue of the Parks Department estimated that between 159 and 211 trees would be felled.

Since many of the trees along Sedgwick Avenue are mature with large circumferences, Parks and the DEP would have to plant thousands of trees in CB 8 to make up for their loss.

“One tree itself could be 50 trees because the trees that they replace them with are three-and-a-half inch trees,” Bronx Parks Commissioner Hector Aponte said in an interview after the meeting.

Mr. McCue said Parks plans to plant 34 large and 68 ornamental trees as is laid out in the contract for the project, but could not say where. 

Based on current legislation, city agencies have 18 months from the date the project is complete to site replacement trees, which, when feasible, are to be planted in the same community district they are removed from.

“The community should weigh in on where they go,” Community Board 8 chair Robert Fanuzzi said.

Tree removal is just the latest issue related to the Croton Water Filtration Plant project that is irking residents. For putting up with the construction of the $3 billion water treatment facility in Van Cortlandt Park, the city allocated $240 million for Bronx parks. While many of the projects across the Bronx have been completed, a jogging path around the reservoir and the renovation of Fort Independence Park has not begun. The Parks Department is using the $5 million allocated for the first phase of a jogging path around half the reservoir, with no plans or funds for future phases.

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