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Many plead for pruning

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For residents of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, overhanging branches on street treesare not only unsightly, they are potentially dangerous.

Never mind the inconvenient fact that -- following the most recent round of belt-tightening -- the city now only prunes its street trees on a 10-year cycle, unless they present a clear and present danger.

A flurry of voices raised to bemoan the situation during a recent town hall meeting hosted in Dyker Heights by State Senator Marty Golden at St. Ephrem’s old school hall, Fort Hamilton Parkway and 74th Street.“There’s a huge tree in front of every house with limbs overriding the homes,” said one resident of 76th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. “If the limbs start letting go, we’re in big trouble.”

One woman’s tree has been on the list “to be pruned” for four years, reported local activist June Johnson, who brought the issue to the attention of Marty Maher, chief of staff for Brooklyn parks.

“The limbs are growing into the screens, which have been destroyed,” Johnson reported.

While, said Maher, the Department of Parks & Recreation sends out inspectors whenever they get a report of potentially dangerous tree limbs, “There are streets where you can’t even walk under the trees,” another resident complained. “There are many dangerous situations. If you are going to wait for someone to get killed, that’s wrong. If you go out proactively, you will see for yourself.”

“We do inspect on a regular basis,” Maher rejoined. “If you have an emergency, call it in, and we will inspect it.”

“Dangerous conditions are not part of the 10-year cycle,” explained Phil Abramson, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, in a subsequent interview. “The pruning cycle is for trees that don’t have hazardous conditions.”

Decisions regarding potentially dangerous tree limbs, he added, are made “on a case-by-case basis.” Among the situations that are potentially hazardous, Abramson said, are “if branches are blocking a traffic signal or hitting a utility line or dangling dangerously.”

Josephine Beckmann, the district manager of Community Board 10, said that the board office receives many reports of dangerous tree limbs, especially from residents of Dyker Heights.

We get complaints every day,” Beckmann told this paper. “We are always calling Parks and making requests, and we’re always told they are on the waiting list.

“I don’t know how cost-effective it is having all these heavy limbs,” she added of the many street trees awaiting a needed pruning. “If the limbs fall, they have the potential to do a great deal of damage.”

On her block, Beckmann went on, there is one very large old tree that, she said, is, “In need of constant attention. I’ve asked for it to be inspected a dozen times. And, that’s one tree on one block.”

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