Tree removal an unwanted surprise

By Alexander Ruck

I live in a small complex of townhouses in Kew Gardens, Queens. A year ago, the complex was acquired by Benedict Realty Group, and on Monday, May 1, notices were placed on all the apartment doors notifying the residents that renovations of the “garden area and interior walkway” would be occurring soon.

No specifics were mentioned other than “we will be planting in the main garden area as well as the smaller gardens outside the apartments.” Two days later, on Wednesday, May 3, a crew of workers came in and, unexpectedly, and with no warning, cut down all of the trees in the apartment complex. Many of these trees were over two stories tall and over 30 years old.

My wife and I have spoken with multiple neighbors and we can all agree that we are devastated and outraged at this destruction, including some of our older neighbors who have memories of their children holding picnics under the trees almost 40 years ago.

To put this into more perspective, please understand that our complex consists of two-story houses forming a perimeter around a central lawn area, with the front of the houses facing in. The trees took up space in this lawn area, and now that they are gone, our views from our windows consist of unobstructed views of neighbor windows across the lawn, as well as a looming water tower a few blocks away. Countless birds and other animals have been displaced as well.

Signs were installed showing the expected outcome of the planned renovation, which include new elevated walkways, small patios, a fountain, and a pond. While these plans were made available one or two days before the work began, no mention of the destruction of these trees was told to us, nor, to my knowledge, were any of the residents consulted as to what our wishes and opinions were.

Everyone we have spoken to says the same thing: The natural shade and views the trees and plants provided were preferable to what looks like a small public park being built right outside our bedroom windows.

We feel it is important to let people know about what has happened and how hurt and betrayed we feel.

Alexander Ruck

Kew Gardens

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