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Atlantic Yards Watch: removal of Atlantic Yards street trees means "construction delay-induced blight"

Trees on Pacific Street in summer
When the city removes parking next week from the north side of Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, and directs the street one-way, there's some collateral damage, "construction delay-induced blight," as Peter Krashes writes on Atlantic Yards Watch: "Temporary" removal of street trees on Pacific Street (and elsewhere) could last for decades with delayed construction.

Next week developer Forest City Ratner will remove 20 street trees on that north side of Pacific, part of a 2008 Parks Department permit that allows the removal of 86 existing street trees. But this may take far longer than previously assumed.

As Krashes writes:
The area where the trees on Pacific Street are located was originally anticipated to be the first area of the second phase of the project to be constructed. However, in October 2012, FCRC Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told investors that second phase construction would begin first on block 1129 (between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, and Dean and Pacific Streets). Further, at the time the 2008 permit was granted, it was assumed the air rights over the railyard would already be owned by FCRC. Now MTA still retains those rights and FCRC is not obligated to purchase them.
Arena block loses trees

Krashes also noted that, "[i]n December, approximately five recently planted trees near the arena were removed, apparently at the request of NYPD due to concerns about pedestrian safety." that means only eleven street trees, compared to the original plan for 31 such trees.

So there will be a switch:
A representative from the Parks Department has confirmed with AYW it will allow FCRC to meet their permit obligations by planting trees on blocks near the project when the number of trees originally included in the permit does not fit into the public right of way around the project perimeter.
This, according to Krashes, may be a response to "unanticipated consequences of changes to the arena block" made in 2009, including the inclusion of "an exit at Dean Street and Flatbush which was never disclosed in project plans and never studied in any pedestrian analysis."

What next?

Krashes warns that it may be very difficult to develop the planned 116 street trees, because many "now lie in areas FCRC does not control and is in the position to choose to not develop."

For more, see Atlantic Yards Watch. Also see coverage in Patch:
[Christine] Schmidt, who moved into the [Newswalk] building 11 years ago, remembers petitioning to get the trees put in around 2002.
"They finally started to get beautiful and were finally stating to provide shade and I can't believe that they will ever replace them with trees of those size," she said
"It will take years before new plantings can reach the kind of stature that they can affectively be cooling the street and the sidewalks," she added.


  1. Hi there,

    I live up in the Bronx, but heard about the removal of street trees in connection with the Atlantic Yards project on Channel 4’s Debrief last weekend. I wanted to share information about a fight launched by a community up in the Bronx against a similar situation.

    Members of the Bronx community affected joined together to form the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance (PPPA) and were able to positively alter the original outcome (see PPPA Can Claim Victory on Trees:, in the Bronx Times Reporter). Perhaps their story would be helpful to any activists, bloggers and reporters, who are interested in or currently working to preserve as many Atlantic Yard trees as possible. George Zulch (a founding member), Joseph Menta, and David Varenne were key members of the PPPA whom local electeds requested be appointed to a technical working group made up of the community, the Department of Design and Construction and the Parks Department, and might be good people to contact.

    Other articles about the initial formation of the PPPA and their progress during their 2 year fight are also available at the Bronx Times Reporter’s website (

    To summarize, numerous trees along Pelham Parkway were slated for removal due to a construction improvement and repair project (new guard rails and sewer infrastructure) along this roadway. Obviously, while slightly different in nature and nowhere near the scale of the Atlantic Yards project, many similar issues were at stake

    * a unilateral decision (in this case, on the part of city agencies) to cut down up to 50 mature trees, justified as follows

    * safety – the trees would interfere with the installation of much needed guardrails

    * expense - alternative plans preserving the trees would be too costly
    disease – removal of 30-40 more trees (over and above the 50 cited above) due to illness

    * promises to replant new trees to replace those that were removed

    I hope you find this information useful.

    Good Luck!


    Pelham Bay Resident
    Where tenacity, hope and delight meet. . .


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