5,000 new plants take root in Alley Pond Park

By Tom Momberg

About 3,500 trees and 1,500 new shrubs took root in Alley Pond Park last week due to the combined effort of more than 200 volunteers.

The New York Knicks along with Madison Square Garden, PricewaterhouseCoopers and city Department of Parks and Recreation in conjunction with Million Trees NYC put in the effort to improve the natural quality of the park and its watershed.

Pricewaterhouse also recruited the second-grade classes of PS 161 in Brooklyn to help out.

The event coincided with the National Basketball Association’s Green Week, and served as an extension of the Parks Department and Pricewaterhouse “Threes for Trees” pledge, in which they promised to plant a tree for every one of the 560 three pointers made by the Knicks last season. Pricewaterhouse outdid themselves on the number of trees they actually planted.

Even former Knicks player and NBA Hall of Famer Walt Fraizer took to Alley Pond Park last week to see that pledge come to fruition. The kids aren’t old enough to know who Fraizer is, but had a lot to learn from him when it comes to horticulture.

“I love getting kids involved with nature planting trees,” Fraizer said. “I’ve personally planted at least 10. It’s one of my hobbies, actually. This is how it starts. These kids are starting early with nature, learning about trees and nature: It’s truly invaluable to them.”

Pricewaterhouse and the Knicks partner with the Parks Department to determine the greatest impact they can have in selecting sites and species to plant.

“This effort is really great, because obviously we need more trees to help maintain the natural canopy in the city, which not only helps keep temperatures cooler, but also helps reduce air and soil contaminants,” Parks Department Stewardship Director Katerli Bounds said.

Pricewaterhouse partner Mitch Roschelle leads the company’s youth education initiative, which works to educate kids in city schools about subjects like the environment.

“Volunteering in schools and doing things to help the environment are the two pillars of our corporate responsibility initiative, and this is an opportunity to put them together,” Roschelle said. “Since we on any given day of the week have volunteers from PWC teaching at schools, we thought we would incorporate that into this program.”

Roschelle said planting 5,000 plants is a good way to measure and articulate the impact of the company’s efforts.

“This is permanent and sustainable,” he said. “One of the mistakes companies tend to make is that they confuse corporate responsibility with marketing. We focus on the resources we have, and try to determine the greatest impact we can have on the community with the resources we have. We have 9,000 people, so think about the impact.”

Learn more about Pricewaterhouse’s partnership with Madison Square Garden and the Knicks at www.nba.com/knicks/trees4threes.

Learn how to contribute to the New York City’s Million Trees Initiative online at www.milliontreesnyc.org/html/home/home.shtml.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.