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Queens Chronicle

Restoring trees to Forest Hills’ MacDonald Park

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Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2011 12:00 pm

   The aftermath of a natural disaster is defined by numbers — casualties, infrastructural damage, funding the recovery efforts.

   But borough residents and business owners impacted by last September’s tornadoes and microburst are reminded daily of the depth of destruction with noticeable images, like when they stroll or drive past such sites as MacDonald Park in Forest Hills, whose signature arboreal canopy was decimated by Mother Nature’s swift, powerful punch.

   But the Forest Hills-Rego Park community this weekend is teaming up with JetBlue Airways, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York Restoration Project to plant 79 trees in the 80-year-old park on Queens Boulevard at Yellowstone Boulevard.

   The effort is part of NYRP’s MillionTreesNYC initiative and the Forest Hills-based airline’s fourth annual “One Thing That’s Green” event. Other partners include radio stations 106.7 Lite FM, 103.5 KTU FM and Power 105.1 FM.

   “We are thankful for the hard work of volunteers and are excited to replace the fallen trees at MacDonald Park and restore some greenery to the neighborhood,” NYRP Executive Director Amy Freitag said in a prepared statement.

   The restoration project has already replanted trees in storm-damaged Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

   Hundreds of volunteers, including the Rego-Forest Preservation Council and Queens Boulevard Restoration Group, are expected at MacDonald this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Stephen Melnick, founder of the QBRG, said he passes the park daily, and that people unfamiliar with the area might look at the small patch now and not realize the unique tree cover it boasted for decades.

   “When you see the [before] pictures, it is such a stark contrast,” he told the Chronicle. “Hopefully, this will bring it back.”

   Additionally, Melnick asserted that one of the most important elements of Saturday’s effort is civic and municipal responsibility for the new trees, going forward.

   “It’s up to the community to foster and maintain them,” he said. “This may foster more volunteerism in that park. ... and show our elected officials how important it is to fund things to continue rebuilding it.

   “It’s a long process,” he continued. “It’s going to be a series of projects that the city’s going to have to follow through with. But I just don’t want to see the city drop the ball.”

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