On Friday, November 30, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his way out to Queens and visited Alley Pond Park to thank those who have been working to secure the city’s parks.
One of the largest issues the department faced was finding trees that were damaged or destroyed by the storm and clearing them. Some trees have to be cut systematically in order to safely remove them so no one or their property is injured during the process.
“Open spaces are reasonably resilient,” said Bloomberg. “Every year there are storms, every year some trees come down, and every year they keep going.”
Bloomberg said that while the Parks Department want to open the parks as quickly as possible, “the number one priority is safety.”
“If it’s not safe, we close the park and it might not be popular, but that’s what we have to do,” he said.
Parks Commissioner Veronica White joined the mayor, and said that 90 percent of parks and playgrounds were up and running.
“It’s great to have people out and about as they are here today enjoying our wonderful parks and playgrounds,” she said.
White said the Parks Department received roughly 26,000 service requests regarding street trees, and half of them were in Queens. And the hurricane knocked down or damaged close to 5,000 trees in the parks themselves, which created a dangerous environment.
White said that it storm hit at an interesting time, because the Parks Department has been planting trees. “We’re ahead of the game, despite Sandy,” she said.
Parks employee Patrick McCarthy has been cutting large limbs from the tops of trees. He said that the closer one gets to the trees, the easier it is to see how structurally weak the trees have become.
“Some of the branches are split down the middle,” he said. “Some are still solid, but there’s always a little mystery involved.
McCarthy said a tree that had just been cut down would have eventually fallen on to a house across the street.
Up close they look very damaged, a lot of things you can’t see from the ground,” he said.