Lugan Mulakh lives in Glen Oaks, where State Senator Tony Avella held a press conference last Thursday morning; a location he chose because of the abnormally high damage left behind from recent big storms.
“They put a green mark on the tree in October, which didn’t do anything,” said Mulakh, explaining what happened when he complained to the Parks Department about weak trees in his neighborhood. “The remnants fell on my house and my insurance premium went up.”
While it was apparent at the press conference that the Parks Department began their work in the neighborhood solely for the photo opportunity, nobody was complaining about the irony.
His neighbor, directly across the street, still has a stump in his front yard left over from the last year's Hurricane Irene.
“When the city trees damage sewage systems, we had to fix it,” Mulakh said.”They gave us a violation, and that is unfair.”
Standing beside Avella were leaders from the Queens Civic Congress, Bay Hills Civic Association, North Bellmore Civic Association, the Lost Community Civics Association and Queens Colony Civic Association.
Avella and the civic leaders suggested more research to find out what trees should and should not be planted in various neighborhoods, an increase in funding for tree pruning, and the formation of a set “shelf life” for various tree species.
“The city needs to do a far better job at maintaining the trees that are already planted before planting a million more,” Avella said of the city’s MillionTreesNYC plan. “It’s extremely unfortunate that many of the downed trees that either fell on homes or blocked streets are the same trees that constituents have been calling on the city to remove for years.”
Due to poor pruning, trees in Glen Oaks are growing into power lines, roots are tearing up the sidewalk in front of people’s homes, and when there is even the slightest gust of wind, according to many of the neighbors, falling tree limbs are causing mass power outages.
Michael Castellano, First vice president for the LCCA, has also seen this problem develop over the last several years, explaining that the city has carelessly planted trees in areas that just cannot support the size or roots.
“Trees can fall and we’ve seen that with these storms,” Castelano said. “When they cut roots to repave the streets 15 or 20 years ago, the root structure was weakened and they fell towards homes instead of away.”