Dead trees and an overgrowth of grass and weeds have overtaken the medians on Hillside Avenue that stretch from Springfield Boulevard to 231st Street next to Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village for decades, according to Kirby Lindell of Bell Park Manor Terrace, a housing cooperative for veterans.
After years of highlighting the issue, which many in Lindell’s neighborhood say has been a problem for decades, he had hoped that an expected tree removal process for September would go through this year.
However, as the Queens Chronicle reached out to the Parks Department to get a definite date on the project, the agency said it was moved to next year.
“Tree removals along this portion of the median will be completed by fall 2022,” said a spokeswoman of the Parks Department in a prepared statement. “Due to an upcoming DEP project, we cannot provide an immediate timeline for the replacement of these trees as planting is not favorable during construction.”
After an analysis of the public safety risk of the trees that included assessing each one’s condition, its likelihood of impact and the consequences in impact should the tree fail, inspectors from the Parks Department determined that those along the medians have a low-risk rating and that their removal was not essential at the moment.
In fiscal year 2022 to fiscal year 2023, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection has a future project to better manage stormwater and reduce potential flooding in Queens Village, according to a spokesman in an email.
“DEP has a green infrastructure project planned for some of the medians in the area. Work is planned to start in FY22/23,” said the DEP spokesman. “Given the scope of work, construction would likely remove or affect newly planted trees.”
The Parks Department spokeswoman agreed that any newly planted trees “risk 100 percent failure” for staying rooted if there is a simultaneous construction project going on.
“It’s to be expected — the delay,” said Lindell. “Then we’ll hear next year that it’ll be delayed for another year. These trees have been dead and I’ve been reporting them for over five years. I’ve also reported the growth every year and this year it looks like a jungle. There’s absolutely no excuse why it shouldn’t be done. It’s only passing it on so next year they can say we’ll be doing it in the following year. They treat our area as if it was a third-world country.”