Thursday, December 2, 2010

Left Hanging

Community activists have been fighting to get dangerous hanging limbs removed from streets for months. Three months after a tornado and microburst knocked over numerous trees in Middle Village and surrounding areas, there are still potentially dangerous hanging limbs from trees.

Bob Holden, Chairman of Public Safety for Community Board 5 and President of the Juniper Park Civic Association, asked Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski in an e-mail how the situation could be handled.

Since the storm, Holden has been asking local politicians and the Parks Department to address hanging limbs. He said he has witnessed limbs big enough to crush a car fall on Cooper Avenue.

Over the weekend, Holden documented several trees along Cooper Avenue between Woodhaven Boulevard and 80th Street. “I’ve been fighting since the storm to get the limbs removed,” Holden said. “Many areas like Cooper Avenue were left with nothing done.”

Lewandowski said the department identified 11 trees on Cooper Avenue along St. John’s Cemetery and will take care of the problem. She reiterated that the best way for the community to alert the Parks Department of concerns over trees is through 311.

Residents should provide as much detailed information as possible, Lewandowski said.
In Holden’s opinion, however, finding dangerous trees is not residents’ jobs. Besides hanging limbs, many trees were left unbalanced and visibly leaning.

“I’m not an arborist,” Holden said, “I don’t really know if the trees are stable. Plus, most people don’t walk around looking up at trees. We need someone to go and comprehensively evaluate the state of the trees.”

Many of the limbs hang over popular parking spots and busy pedestrian sidewalk. “They have been there since the microburst,” resident Michael O'Kane told the Daily News. “I park between the trees. People walk their dogs over there all time and I don't think they are aware of the risk. It might be a remote risk, but it's still a risk.”

While there have not been any reported injuries from falling limbs in the area since the September storm, branches can pose serious risks. Earlier this summer, a six-month-old child was killed by a falling limb at the Central Park Zoo. Last year, a 100-pound limb hit Google engineer Sasha Blair-Goldensohn at Central Park, leaving him in a coma. Locally, in the summer of 2008, a New York City Corrections Officer was critically injured when a limb fell on her at the Myrtle Avenue Street Fair.

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