MidVill residents wary over train company’s tree donation

MidVill residents wary over train company’s tree donation
By Joe Anuta

A railroad company unpopular in Middle Village, Maspeth and Glendale paid for 21 new trees in Juniper Valley Park last month.

The CSX Corp., which is responsible for running open train cars full of garbage, through Middle Village, donated $7,500 to pay for Scarlet Oak, Sweetgum and Cedar trees that will stand in the park, according to a city Parks Department spokeswoman.

The company donated the money to replace eight trees that were destroyed by a microburst during the tornado that struck Queens Sept. 16, she added.

But Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Valley Civic Association, said there is another reason as well.

“We know why they donated,” he said. “It’s more than a coincidence. When there is some controversy in the neighborhood, these companies like to reach out and donate.”

The corporation has drawn outrage from central Queens residents for the garbage trains and loud noise, according to Holden.

“It’s a gesture, but it’s not going to make us feel any different toward the company,” he said. “We’d rather see them correct their idling, noise and emissions.”

The problem was so pronounced that state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) proposed a bill that would have forced the company to put lids on its trash cars, although it did not pass.

A spokesman from CSX said the donation is part of a program called Trees for Tracks.

“It is to beautify properties in communities that we go through with the planting of trees,” said spokesman Gary Sease. “It not only beautifies the communities and helps them with greenscapes but is also an environmentally good thing.”

Nevertheless, Holden said the trees are a step along the road to the park’s recovery.

“It’s going to take several generations for the park to catch up,” Holden said, adding that the storm did unprecedented damage to the park.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. Most people described it as looking like a war zone,” he said.

Trees all over the borough were destroyed by the storm and, according to Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski, replacing street trees were given priority over trees in the park — but that has not stopped the department from working to repair areas like Juniper Valley Park.

“We have been reaching out with different organizations making donations for park trees,” she said.

Lewandowski added that she hoped to get more donations in the spring, when all of the trees from the CSX donation will be in the ground.

The Scarlet Oaks were not planted this fall, since they grow better in the spring.

Volunteer groups helped plant the other trees, which compensated for part of the damage, although Holden said that there is much more work to be done.

“We wanted to plant more mature trees,” he said. “The trees they were planting this fall were barely 6 feet high.”

To do that, Holden said the association is raising money and will plant more trees of their own in the spring.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.