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CB 11 requests trees remain in Pelham Parkway reconstruction

A plan to replace the aging Pelham Parkway roadways has drawn concern, but also much praise, as most agree that the project is needed to keep the parkway a viable route for the future. However, the community has one new request: leave as many of the parkway trees in place as possible.

As part of the massive two-year, $36 million reconstruction of Pelham Parkway that will start this fall and last for two years, approximately 87 trees have been condemned. The trees were deemed to be in the way of the construction project, reached their full maturity or are in the process of decay, based on a Department of Design and Construction tree summary taken in the fall of 2009.

Community Board 11 has now written to DDC requesting that only 37 trees need to be removed for the construction project to reconstruct roadways, storm sewers, and combined sewers on the parkway. The original plan calls for an additional 50 trees to be removed and replaced with hundreds of saplings.

“The trees on the parkway are an important part of the landscape and make Pelham Parkway the beautiful stretch that it is today,” stated CB 11 chairman Dominic Castore in a letter to DDC dated Monday, June 14. “The trees also act as an agent to cleanse the air of pollutants. Because of these facts, Community Board 11 is requesting that only the trees needed for the project to move forward be removed at this time. We are asking that the remaining trees be left intact to mature and only be removed when they pose a danger to the community.”

Castore stated that the board would still like to see the project started and completed in the time frame put forth by DDC: from the fall of 2010 to the fall of 2012. The letter stated that the board made its latest request after receiving many complaints and concerns from residents of the community regarding the removal of trees on the parkway.

CB 11 district manager John Fratta said that he understands that the project is something that is needed, and noted it has been in the works since 1986. However, the board feels that the request made of DDC by the Parks Department to remove an additional 50 trees would hurt the parkway’s aesthetics.

“In a letter to DDC about the Pelham Parkway reconstruction, we let them know that although this project is very important to us, we would like them only to remove the 37 trees needed to complete the project,” Fratta said. “We believe that the trees give the parkway its natural beauty.”

In addition to plans for reconstructed roadways and sewers, the Pelham Parkway reconstruction project also includes new water mains, sidewalks and curbs. Itwill also install new street lights, traffic signals, and a new Bus Rapid Transit Lane.

DDC did not comment on CB 11’s letter as of press time.

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com.

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