EXCLUSIVE: Queens senator says parks department ignoring hundreds of complaints about dangerous trees

Posted at 6:53 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 18:53:18-04

QUEENS — Queens State Senator Tony Avella is calling on the Parks Department to respond to hundreds of constituent complaints about dangerous city trees in front of their homes.

Avella said he conducted a tree survey in February, and received 700 responses from homeowners claiming dead trees or damaged sidewalks. He then submitted 700 complaints to the Parks Department. Of those complaints, Avella said about 600 of them have been logged with the 311 system. He said only about 20 have resulted in tree removals.

"Homeowners said they're scared for the safety of their family and their property," said Avella.

Avella said the complaints remain largely unanswered because he said the Parks Department is understaffed and underfunded. "I know at least one homeowner is waiting over a year for a dead tree to be removed," said Avella.

Aldo Giambrone spoke to PIX11 while cleaning the branches from a tree that fell in his Cryder Lane driveway in Whitestone Thursday night. The tree fell on Giambrone's car and front yard. "We look over the window, and we saw the tree on top of the car," said Giambrone.

Giambrone said he and a neighbor had reported the tree to 311 weeks ago, but said nothing was done until the tree fell.

Giambrone's neighbor, Pam Divita, has been calling Avella's office for help. She believes a large tree across the street from her home is in danger of crashing onto her property. "You can see the sidewalk is starting to lift, it's on an angle, and it's directed toward my home, so I am very concerned," said Divita.

The tree in question has been tagged for removal, but Divita hopes its removed by the Parks Department before Mother Nature takes it down herself. "I would like it to be something that can be done right away, sooner rather than later," said Divita.

In response, the Parks Department released the following statement to PIX 11:

"As the stewards of New York City’s urban forest, we care for our city’s street and park trees and also respond to more than 80,000 forestry-related service requests from concerned New Yorkers each year. To help keep our tree canopy healthy and safe, we’re integrating modern tree risk management practices into the way we care for our urban forest."