The Forest Hills Green Team, led by community advocate Steve Melnick, recently launched the “Continental Avenue Tree Guards Fundraiser.” Along Continental Avenue between Queens Boulevard and Austin Street stand 40-year-old Honey Locust trees, but some of the tree guards that safeguard the pits and trees have been damaged.
In more recent years, two Pin Oak trees were planted outside HSBC Bank, but without tree guards.
Some benefits of tree guards are preventing the trunk from physical damage, preventing pet waste in the tree pit, and reducing soil compaction. Tree guards have been proven to extend a tree’s longevity, as well as offer gardening beds.
“Back in 2003, the city installed tree guards as part of a street and sidewalk improvement project, but due to budget cuts, the project was scaled down,” said Melnick.
Today, out of 14 tree guards, seven are in need of replacement. There are 11 models of available tree guards, along with some custom panel and add-on planter options. As the styles evolve from simple to ornate, so do the costs.
The group hopes to raise at least $4,500 by late May through donations, which residents and merchants can provide on ioby.org. Since the fundraiser’s launch four weeks ago, $1,060 has been donated.
“Half of the donors are from Forest Hills,” said Melnick. “HSBC Bank is willing to discuss how they can help, and we are working with several other businesses in hopes of getting their support, too.”
To meet their ends, the Forest Hills Green Team has reached out to The New York Tree Trust, a program of the Parks Department and City Parks Foundation. They hope to install the tree guards this July.
“I would absolutely love to see tree guards installed along Queens Boulevard and Austin Street,” said Sue Goon.
Last year, Goon and her fiancé Mike Miller began helping Landscape MacDonald Park and Continental Avenue, and recently donated to the tree guards fundraiser.
“Knowing those funds will serve a good purpose is more than enough reason to donate my time and money,” she said. “Forest Hills residents have a great sense of neighborhood pride, but we need that enthusiasm to be expressed through volunteering. It only takes a few hours of your day, but provides unlimited satisfaction.”
For those who do not wish to wait until July to assist professionals in the installation of the tree guards, the Forest Hills Green Team is seeking volunteers for landscaping the Continental Avenue tree pits on April 26 from 9 a.m. to noon. Supplies and gloves will be provided. To volunteer, contact Smelnick718@gmail.com.
“Our event is open to everyone, and you don't need a green thumb,” Melnick said. “This year we will concentrate on hardy perennials that do not require much maintenance and are drought tolerant. We will also intersperse some seasonal annuals.”
Melnick hopes more residents will be inspired by the Forest Hills Green Team.
“As our community grows and changes, it is vital that new residents are made aware of the importance of keeping our part of the city clean and green,” he said. “Residents can plant a tree or anything green, grab a paintbrush and remove graffiti, or push a broom and clean their sidewalk, since a nurtured community is a thriving community, and one to be proud of.”