Many of Bay Ridge’s beautiful old trees are showing signs of age — dangerously so, say some, who worry that falling branches could injure passersby or damage property.
As of July 23, 2018, 311 had recorded 408 complaints this year about tree maintenance, damaged, dead, or dying trees within Community Board 10, which encompasses Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights and CB 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told this paper that there had been an increase in reports about damaged trees in the board area since 2016.
“Just recently a large limb fell where the Road Runners have their Open Run on Shore Road and 79th,” Beckmann said. “The limb is blocking their route. I use examples like these as indicators that this is a problem we’re having with limited resources.” Beckmann said the board forwards any complaints it receives, and wants to make pruning a budget priority.
John Calabrese lives on 78th Street between Colonial Road and Ridge Boulevard. His block is heavily populated with towering London Plane trees with pale grey-green bark and thick leaves, which make up 20 percent of the overall tree type in Brooklyn.
“On each block you’ll find brown tree limbs all over Bay Ridge,” said Calabrese. “The wind and heat crack them off eventually because they’re dead.”
According to the 2016 Urban Forest Summary, 105 trees out of the 6,711 counted on the streets in Bay Ridge were dying or dead. These trees have been affected by saltwater floods and high velocity winds from events like Hurricane Floyd in 1999, tornadoes in 2010, Hurricane Irene in 2011, and of course Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
The branch that crashed near Calabrese’s home earlier in July did not result in any casualties, but that does not dampen his concern for property and vehicle damage or the risk to his neighbors.
When contacted about Calabrese’s tree in front of his home, Maeri Ferguson, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation, which is responsible for street trees, said in an email, “Parks’ foresters inspected this tree on March 12, 2018 and again on July 16, 2018. Following both inspections, the tree was deemed healthy and only in need of some pruning. We’ve created a work order to prune the tree.” No timeline for the work was given.
Currently, the Parks Department is on a 10-year pruning cycle. In 2014, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released an audit of the program, criticizing it for inefficiency.
“Fallen branches cause real damage and hurt – they’re dangerous, and the city should do everything it can to protect its residents. Our audit team uncovered mismanagement in Parks’ street tree pruning program that worsened the longstanding problem and led the city to pay for avoidable claims,” said Stringer when asked about the current situation. “We called for more diligent inspections, detailed documentations and increased investigations to fix this issue. Bay Ridge residents and taxpayers throughout our city deserve better results from Parks and we’ll continue to shine a light on common-sense solutions.”