Queens reps want city to take better care of ‘neglected’ Union Turnpike trees

Photo by Suzanne Monteverdi/QNS

Two eastern Queens lawmakers have joined the call for the city to take better care of the trees planted along a busy local corridor.

Dead and poorly maintained trees along the Union Turnpike median running through areas of Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows have been a long-term concern, according to local activists. Longtime Hollis Hills resident Louis Lapolla spoke with QNS in March about the issue, which he said has blighted the neighborhood for about six years.

Now, Assembly members Nily Rozic and David Weprin are joining the call. The lawmakers are urging the city Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to inspect the trees along the corridor between Francis Lewis Boulevard and Main Street.

“Although they may be a small part of our blueprint, trees in our neighborhood should not be neglected,” Rozic said. “I urge the Department of Parks and Recreation to expedite inspections and replace the damaged trees.”

Weprin, who represents neighboring District 24, also advocated for “better care and attention” to the trees in the area.

“Our trees and forestry here in northeast Queens are characteristic of the great neighborhoods that surround our respective districts,” he said.

Hillcrest Estates Civic Association president Jackie Forrestal and Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association president James Gallagher Jr. backed the lawmakers’ effort.

“I want to thank Assembly members Rozic and Weprin for their continued concern for the Fresh Meadows community,” Gallagher Jr. said. “I appreciate their care for every issue that impacts local homeowners, from trees to property taxes.”

While on site in March, Lapolla pointed out that DPR planted the trees about six years ago. Many died almost immediately, he said.

A Parks spokesperson told QNS that consistent exposure to air pollution, salt and vehicle collisions cause high mortality rates in  trees planted along medians. As of March 23, the agency could not provide an immediate time frame for the removal and potential replacement of the trees in the area.

Lapolla, who is also a member of the Hollis Hills Civic Association, said he and the group plan to send the Parks Department a letter about the trees.