Don’t want a tree? You’re getting one anyway, says city

October 19, 2012 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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If you’re a homeowner in Bay Ridge or Dyker Heights and you see a white chalk mark shaped like the letter “T” on the sidewalk in front of your house, don’t be alarmed. The “T” doesn’t stand for terror. It stands for tree. It means the city is going to plant as tree in front of your home.

The Bloomberg Administration’s ambitious MillionTreesNYC program is coming to Community Board 10, local officials announced. Part of the PlaNYC initiative to make New York a more healthy, environmentally friendly city, MillionTreesNYC is a public-private partnership in which the city will team up with businesses and organizations to fund the planting of 1 million trees in New York over the next 10 years.

“By planting one million trees, New York City can increase its urban forest—our most valuable environmental asset made up of street trees, park trees, and trees on public, private and commercial land—by an astounding 20%, while achieving the many quality-of-life benefits that come with planting trees,” according to a statement on the MillionTreesNYC website.

“If you see a white letter ‘T’ in front of your home, it means a tree will be planted before Dec. 15,” Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told members at their Oct. 15 meeting.

If a homeowner doesn’t want a tree, the city has a simple answer: too bad!

“Homeowners who do not want a tree cannot appeal to the New York City Parks Department,” Beckmann said.

“That’s not fair,” said one man who lives on 85th Street in Bay Ridge. “They want to make the city greener, but I’ll get stuck raking the leaves.” The man declined to give his name. “They’ll look up my address and deliberately plant a tree in front of my house!” he said.

Speaking of leaves, Beckmann announced that the Department of Sanitation isn’t putting special trucks out on the streets to collect them this year. She received word from the agency that “leaf collection has been canceled once again for this fiscal year due to budget constraints.” Special collections of leaves were also canceled last year.

Homeowners are being encouraged to put the leaves in large plastic bags to be picked up with the regular household trash. Beckmann requested that residents not sweep leaves into the street. Our sanitation sweepers are not vacuum trucks. There are times when the route cannot be completed because of a quantity of leaves. Each year I ask our residents to bag as many leaves as possible and not sweep sidewalk leaves into the street,” she said.

The city isn’t just planting trees; it’s also going after property owners with broken sidewalks.

The Department of Transportation’s sidewalk repair program is in full swing, according to Beckmann, who was contacted by agency officials. “If you have orange markings on your sidewalk, this means that your sidewalk is on the list for repairs,” Beckmann said. “Sidewalks that were issued violations and not repaired are replaced by the city and will be billed as part of your next finance bill statement,” she told board members.

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