By John Amato
Now that the new fiscal year for New York City has begun and the City Council has appropriated new budgets for all city departments, the city Parks Department must continue to fight for significantly more funding so that it can continue its very hard work of maintaining the city’s street and park trees throughout the five boroughs.
With tens of thousands of trees lining the city streets and parks, the Forestry Division has a mammoth task of managing their upkeep. There are many healthy trees, but there are also those that are not so healthy. Those unhealthy trees need to be removed in order to prevent possible injury, death or damage to property.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and each of his borough Parks commissioners need to appear before the City Council together and lobby for the necessary additional funding, so that additional tree pruners, climbers and inspectors can be hired.
In Queens, I was informed by the Division of Forestry that for the entire borough, there are approximately 100 tree inspectors. In Queens alone, there are 248,000 trees in our parks and along our streets. There is no possible way that 100 tree inspectors could be adequate to accomplish this herculean task. All of the personnel in the Forestry Division are very hardworking and dedicated to keeping our streets safe, and do a very fine job, but additional personnel are needed to further improve on the turnaround times for tree inspections, tree removal and tree pruning.
We are now into the thunderstorm season, as well as the new Atlantic hurricane season, which is expected to be above normal again this year, according to the NOAA and the National Hurricane Center.
After seeing the damage caused by tornadoes, macrobursts, tropical storms and nor’easters in the last decade, what more proof does the City Council need to significantly increase the funding allocation for the Department of Parks?
The people of this city should be able to safely walk down tree-lined streets and through city parks without having fear of a tree or branch suddenly breaking and falling, which could cause injury or even possibly death. We have already seen injuries and deaths from falling trees, which should have been totally preventable. This is a matter of public safety!
The very hardworking and dedicated men and women of the borough forestry divisions need and must have much, much more assistance through the hiring of additional personnel, but this won’t happen unless the Parks commissioner and his borough commissioners convince the City Council of the severity of the situation.