Redeemer St. John’s Church in Dyker Heights was spared when a large tree branch fell onto church property in the wake of the short but violent storm that occurred on Monday, July 18, but a car parked in front of it was not.
It was something that the church’s pastor, the Reverend Khader Khalilia, had long feared, and, in fact, had tried to head off.
“This was a concern of mine for over three years. I had requested for the tree to be trimmed and pruned, but they [New York City Parks] refused,” said Khalilia.
Pruning is a horticultural practice to remove specific branches or limbs to benefit the tree from decaying. The average time in New York City between regular pruning cycles can vary from five to seven years, according to the New York City Parks Department, which determines whether or not a tree is in need of pruning in between.
When NYC Parks did not prune the tree three years ago, Khalilia took his concerns to Community Board 10. Last year, the board put in a request via 311 to prune the two trees outside of the church, according to CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who told this paper that the board received a response back in October saying that there was a commitment to prune both trees, but a date had not been set.
“We have continued to advocate for tree pruning maintenance,” said Beckmann. “Some residents get very frustrated that the trees aren’t getting enough maintenance, and that’s due to funding cuts on the past for tree pruning.”
However, according to the agency, it did not receive a request for pruning that particular tree via 311, going back as far as 2005.
The tree was inspected the morning of Wednesday, July 20 and has been marked for removal. The tree adjacent to the church has also been inspected.
Despite the nuisance of having to have the tree limb cleared, Khalilia is grateful everyone in and nearby the church during the storm is okay. He hopes the recent inspection of the trees in the surrounding area is a thorough one so something like this doesn’t happen again.
“We have a nursery school and an entire parish to worry about. It’s really dangerous,” said Khalilia. “The city needs to fix this problem.”