By Phil Corso
Although Tropical Storm Irene may be a thing of the past for most, some neighbors along Douglaston Parkway said they are reminded of the brutal storm every time they step — carefully — outside.
Regina Lustig said she was walking her four-legged pal Patsy along Douglaston Parkway, as she does almost every day, when she noticed her mixed breed pooch was holding up their trot. While walking along the grassy part of the sidewalk near the intersection of Douglaston Parkway and Northern Boulevard, Lustig said the nearly 17-year-old Patsy had gotten tangled up in a hole near a tree stump.
“She put one leg in there and got kind of stuck,” Lustig said. “Patsy kept sinking lower, inch by inch, making it worse whenever she wiggled to get out.”
After Lustig had called for some help, the startled and scared Patsy was removed from the hole without injuries, Lustig said.
The hole was created after the nearby tree, which was rotted at its stump, was removed in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene last year and has not been maintained since its removal, according to Joan, who asked that her name not be released and who lives on Douglaston Parkway. Because of the storm, a portion of the tree had fallen onto her 1 1/2-year-old Nissan Versa and sprawled across her front lawn.
After reporting the dangerous conditions the stump had created in 2011, the woman said she was told it would take up to three years for the city to address the vacant stump outside her home. The tree stump has not been addressed since the storm.
“It is a dangerous condition over there,” the woman said. “This time it was a dog. But next time, it could be somebody else. A child riding a bicycle could also get hurt because of that hole.”
In the wake of the storm last year, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) surveyed the damage and criticized the city’s reaction to constituent concerns regarding unhealthy trees in their areas.
“It is extremely unfortunate that many of the downed trees that have either fallen on homes or blocking streets are the same trees that constituents have been calling on the city to remove for years,” Avella said. “This further exemplifies my previous statements that this city needs to do a far better job at maintaining the trees that are already planted before planting a million more.”
According to the city Parks Department, reported tree stumps are addressed and slated for removal based on available funding. Mayor Michael Bloomberg responded to Avella’s criticism last year, saying city resources were not ample enough to solve all tree-related issues caused by heavy storms.
“We could cut all other services and devote 100 percent of our resources to tree pruning. I’m not sure that’s the smartest thing to do,” Bloomberg said. “I think the senator should tell us where his problems are and we’ll take a look.”
But more than one year after the tree on Douglaston Parkway had been reduced to a stump, its roots have continued to warp the landscape of its surrounding sidewalk, making the daily route Lustig shares with Patsy a bit more dangerous.
“You don’t expect something like that. I can imagine somebody else walking there and getting their foot stuck or getting badly injured,” Lustig said. “I think three years to fix something like that is really too long.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.