Timber! Trees on 80th Street “a disaster waiting to happen” say residents

Dyker Heights residents living on a tree-lined block say that the 100-year-old giants may have survived Sandy, but desperately need to be trimmed before a “disaster” occurs.

Sonny Soave lives on 80th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues. He pointed to at least five trees whose limbs soar high above the street and are hazardously intermingled with service lines. Some of the top-heavy titans dangerously lean over roofs.

“God knows when these trees were planted. It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said.

Gina, who also lives on the block, said that her 11-year-old son is afraid to sleep in his room, located at the front of the house, for fear that a tree branch will crash into his bed. “If we have a bad winter, the weight of the snow will make it fall,” she said.

Christine Gassoso spoke on behalf of her parents who have another behemoth tree in front of their home, with the roots half rotted away.

“Not only is there a problem with branches resting on power lines, but the roots are growing into the sewer line and the [basement] floods when it rains,” she explained, adding that her family has called 3-1-1 at least 10 times, as well as Assemblymember Peter Abbate’s office regarding the problem.

“My kids play here and fall all the time,” Gassoso went on, noting that the recent storm uprooted the tree further, making new cracks in the sidewalk.

Soave pointed out that there is a “high influx” of kids going up and down the block, since I.S. 201 is located on the corner.

“If any of these trees fall, we are done,” he said, adding that if a transformer blows, the area will be without electricity for weeks. “We are lucky so far, but when does your luck run out? They [the Parks Department] maintain them, but it’s not enough.”

Assemblymember Peter Abbate sent a letter to Veronica White, the Parks Department commissioner, on October 11 warning that “branches [are] hanging on property and power lines.” Betty Canizio, who drafted the letter, said that she has not received an answer yet.

“The person that called it into us should have called us to let us know that nothing has been resolved,” she said.

Meghan Lalor, a spokesperson for the Parks Department, said that in the wake of Sandy, “any type of pruning efforts are put on hold. Efforts are going to clearing trees.

“Parks has received more than 26,000 tree service requests since the storm, with more than 6,000 of these calls for conditions in Brooklyn,” she explained. “Of these 6,000 calls nearly than 4,000 were for trees down. As of this morning, Brooklyn forestry staff has removed more than 2,500 downed trees, and downed or hanging limbs.”

But Soave said that he just wants something to be done. “It’s not right, [the city] doesn’t take responsibility,” he said.

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