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Queens Chronicle

New trees planted in Howard Beach

Parks Dept. installs several, though some weren’t requested by residents

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Posted: Thursday, April 17, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:00 am, Thu Apr 24, 2014.

Spring means it’s time for trees and flowers to bloom.

And if you don’t have any trees in front of your home, it might mean it’s time for the city to plant one — apparently even if you don’t want one.

Several new trees were planted on Monday in Howard Beach, at least three along 91st Street between 162nd and 163rd avenues, and at least one on 162nd Avenue just outside the Howard Beach Jewish Center.

Zachary Feder, a spokesman for the Parks Department, said the agency acknowledged trees were being planted and said they were asked for by residents.

“We are indeed planting trees in this general area to fulfill tree requests made by individuals,” Feder said.

But some of the trees were placed at locations that did not previously have any, and the residents of at least two of those homes say they never asked for them, leading one resident to joke that a “tree fairy” had visited the neighborhood.

Angelica Katz, chief of staff to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park), said the office has received several calls from residents complaining that the city planted trees in front of their houses without a request being made.

Though some of the trees planted Monday weren’t requested, since Hurricane Sandy, there have been several requests for new trees by residents in Howard Beach, especially at locations where trees were destroyed or damaged and later cut down due to the storm.

The neighborhood lost a number of trees in the storm when they toppled over in 100 mph wind gusts, but dozens more trees — especially the tall London planes — were lost in the months after Sandy when they were killed by the saltwater that flooded the neighborhood.

Some of the trees that were most resistant to the wind, including evergreens, were also killed by the saltwater.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said he knew about the new trees and noted that they are less vulnerable to wind.

“They are more wind resistant because they have strong trunks and they bend,” he said. “Also, they don’t grow as tall, so there’s less of a risk of them falling into your house.”

Katz added that Goldfeder will talk to the Parks Department about creating a system to allow for more community input on where to place new trees.

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