Thursday, March 07, 2013

Street trees on Pacific felled in less than an hour; replacement schedule unspecified

The warnings had come in mid-February, so it was no surprise that trees on Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues would be cut down for the Atlantic Yards project.

But the work yesterday, cutting down 20 trees in less than an hour, was unceremoniously stark, as the trees, denuded of leaves for the winter, were quickly sawed off their stumps, then fed into a truck-based wood chipper, as indicated in the videos below.



A protest from block association

The Dean Street Block Association issued a press release headlined "Street Trees Cut and Sidewalk to be Narrowed for Atlantic Yards Construction; Future Plans Unknown."

It stated:
In less than an hour this morning 20 street trees planted by the community along Pacific Street were cut down as part of Atlantic Yards’ construction. The same construction work will reduce the width of the Pacific Street sidewalk because a retaining wall is being moved from the LIRR rail yard property line into the public right of way. The sidewalk is one of a few direct conduits to and from Barclay’s Center and its only patron parking lot. The sidewalk may stay narrowed and the street trees may not be replaced for a long period, if not become the permanent condition.
The City of New York is allowing the public right of way to be absorbed into a construction site and for the street trees to be cut even though no final or even intermediate plans exist for this area. This section of sidewalk forms the southern perimeter of Atlantic Yards’ second phase. The plan for the second phase was illegally approved, and the developer Forest City Ratner Company (FCRC) and the Empire State Development Corporation have long delayed replacing it. (http://www.brooklynspeaks.net/court-of-appeals-denies-esdc-fcrc-motion
Dean Street Block Association President Peter Krashes states “Mayor Bloomberg and his agencies are bending over backwards to allow this work without knowing what the public is getting in return. The city has allowed a supposed short-term condition to proceed that is harmful to the public without knowing either the future plans or the completion date. Why does the public always have to bear the risk with Atlantic Yards?” 
The construction work in this location is simply preliminary to enable future construction if and when a permanent rail yard is built adjacent to it. At this time there is no agreement between FCRC and the Metropolitan Transit Authority/Long Island Railroad on a plan for the permanent rail yard, and FCRC is not required by the current project agreements to build it or complete the development over it. Vanderbilt Rail Yard work is already behind schedule, and the public hasn’t been told when the permanent rail yard construction will begin.
Impacted resident Christine Schmidt states, “I’m crushed. The 20 trees I could see out my window blocked the view of the rail yard and now no one can tell us what is coming next.” 
As Prospect Heights Patch reported, quoting Forest City Ratner executive VP Ashley Cotton from a meeting last month, "We will get then in as soon as possible, but we will not replace the trees before we know our work is done."

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