Sunday, November 13, 2011

Save Our 600 Trees At The Kew Gardens Interchange - Open Letter To NYS DOT

Highway Plans Will Uproot 600 trees, 600 trees will fall, Queens Chronicle cover photo by Peter C Mastrosimone, Sept 29, 2011
Time may be running out to save 600 trees, which the NYS Dept of Transportation reportedly plans to cut down at the Kew Gardens Interchange, affecting Kew Gardens, Briarwood, & other Queens communities and beyond. Below is an open letter originally sent on 10/28 to Landscape Architect Jim Lau of the NYS Department of Transportation, & now Landscape Architect Scott Levy. Please publicize & add your voice. 
Subject: IMPORTANT: Kew Gardens Interchange Project - Creative Options To Rescue The 600 Trees Slated For Chopping

Dear Mr. Jim Lau & Mr. Scott Levy,
I understand you are the landscape architects of the NYS Dept of Transportation, who are assigned to the Kew Gardens Interchange Project. Many of my colleagues and I have read in local papers such as the Queens Chronicle, that 600 trees would be slated for the chopping block, as the roads undergo reconfiguration in Kew Gardens and Briarwood. I have some creative ideas, which I encourage you and the NYS Dept of Transportation to consider.
We feel there is no replacement for our beautiful, mature trees. The September 2010 tornado and the August 2011 hurricanes was responsible for the loss of about 4,000 trees cumulatively in our borough. Natural disasters are beyond our control, but proactively preserving our trees is within our control. The NY State DOT's plans to cut down 600 trees goes against my morals as a citizen and humanitarian. What may be "as of right" is not always right for the citizens. Trees convey life, beauty, are nature's pride, purify our air, keep the ground cool, are home to wildlife, and are historic to our Queens landscape.
Statistically speaking, the significant and very successful tree giveaway event that I coordinated in MacDonald Park in June 2011, as well as the tree plantings and giveaways occurring citywide through MillionTreesNYC, will not exceed the beauty and benefits posed by our mature trees in our lifetime. Applying measures towards the preservation and maintenance of our mature trees is most beneficial towards our community.
I urge the NYS DOT to creatively revise their Kew Gardens Interchange plans, in order to preserve the endangered trees. The roads can be reconfigured alternatively. In sections where revision is not at all possible, then Plan B would be to have the endangered trees moved by tree moving companies that specialize in commonly moving medium to larger size trees. Then they can be planted either in parks or on private property which lost a plethora of trees, and they could be named in honor of victims of 9/11, or in the memory of loved ones in a broader perspective. It could be financed by any combination of the State, Parks Dept, green organizations, banks, elected officials, and citizens. Some of the trees can also be given to the tree moving companies which have nurseries, and they can be sold.
Rather than New York State using the funds to chop down these trees, NYS should allocate those funds towards their salvation via transport. As long as our graceful and mature trees along the Kew Gardens Interchange are saved, that is what bears the greatest significance. It would be a sad day or time period in our history to witness the mass destruction of our mature trees, so please work with us by exploring our ideas, and hopefully a compromise can be reached for all parties. Please contact me ASAP. Thank you for your consideration!

Michael Perlman
Forest Hills, NY

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