New tree backlash - Plan to plant thousands meets opposition

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A plan to plant a million trees is being met with opposition from homeowners not in the loop on where they are planted.

Under the city initiative, a property owner’s consent is not a requirement for the city to plant a street tree in front of their property.

“To us it’s identity theft because anybody can request a tree to be planted in front of your house,” said Dyker Heights property owner Sonny Soave, who has been fighting with the city on the initiative ever since a neighbor requested a tree in front of his house.

Soave said he stopped the operation as planters readied to put the tree down in front of his house, but has little hope he will get more than a stay of execution.

Among his complaints is that the tree will take up too much sidewalk space in front of his house. He also says that the gas shut-off main and the sewer pipe are right below that.

Soave said he also complained the tree roots will eventually break or lift the sidewalk and the Parks Department told him he would be long dead by the time that happened.

“We were told the tree costs a thousand dollars each to buy and plant and if you times that by a million that’s a billion dollars,” said Soave. “To him (Bloomberg) trees are more important than anything else. He is cutting back on the Fire Department, Police Department and teachers. Now what do we do when we need help, call a tree?”

The Parks Department is actively courting residents to come forward encouraging them to suggest the planting of trees on their block, even in front of a neighbor’s house.

Such was the case at a recent Midwood Civic Action Force meeting recently when Parks Department employee Abby Jameson made the pitch.

Jameson referred questions from this paper to the Parks Department  press office.

Parks Department spokesperson Philip Abramson said the tree pit between the sidewalk and the street, as well as the sidewalk itself, falls under the city jurisdiction.

“Through Million Trees NYC, a citywide, public-private initiative, New York City is currently planting and caring for one million new trees in every neighborhood across the city’s five boroughs over the next decade,” Abramson said.

“There are countless benefits to trees that contribute to a healthier and more sustainable environment.  Trees also improve our neighborhoods by increasing property values and making commercial districts more vital,” he added.

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