Phil DeVita has been living at 57-27 59th St. for 48 years. In recent years, a string of heath issues has left him unable to venture far from his home. He takes solace in sitting on his porch and looking at the Bradford Pear tree in front of his home.
“I watched it grow as a sapling and it was a source of shade and comfort,” he said. “It’s a good place to sit during my recuperation from paralysis and surgeries.”
Roughly two months ago a truck backed up and hit one of the lower branches, causing it to sever from the tree. DeVita said that after many phone calls a city agency came to clean up the fallen branch.
DeVita said that he came out of his home to see that all of the branches had been cut from the tree. One bystander said that a Parks Department employee said the tree was scheduled for demolition.
“The tree was still healthy and thriving and it kept growing,” DeVita said. “There was no damage other than losing that branch.”
The tree is on city property and is the responsibility of the Parks Department. A spokesperson for the department said a tree would be removed if it is severely damaged and determined to be dangerous.
“They just come and do what they want to do,” DeVita said. “And you can’t do anything about it.”
On the other hand, residents Nancy and Robert Telesca, who have lived on Hamilton Pl. since 1979, say a tree was planted next to their home that they fear will cause damage to their residence.
They said that when they first moved to the neighborhood, the Parks Department had to remove a tree from the same spot.
“My husband and I had to go through a lot of money to fix the sidewalk and they had to chop out all of the roots because it was going into our trap,” Mrs. Telesca said. “We would get floods down in the basement.”
Their neighbor also had to pay to replace the sidewalk because the roots of a tree, owned by the city, had pushed it up.
Mr. Telesca said his biggest frustration was not being told that the city wanted to plant the tree. He said he could have explained to them that planting a tree in the location could do harm to his home.
"Street trees are planted in large tree pits to avoid lifting up adjacent sidewalks," said a spokesperson with the Parks Department. "Their roots cannot damage intact pipes and can only intrude if there is a pre-existing crack."
Although the spokesperson said that residents can request a free inspection of a tree by calling 311 Robert is still unhappy with the new addition to the side of his home.
“I’m going to have a flood in my basement,” he said. “Is the city going to pay for that?”