Following death, pol calls for tighter tree maintenance
by Josh Brewer
Aug 07, 2013 | 1347 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Parks crew cleans up the tree on Monday afternoon.
A Parks crew cleans up the tree on Monday afternoon.
A Queens state senator is calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to focus on the maintenance of city trees following the death of Yingyi Li-Dikov, who was struck by a falling tree in Kissena Park on Sunday evening.

Bloomberg and the City Council recently passed a budget that allocates $290 million out of a $70 billion for maintenance of more than 2.6 million trees. State Senator Tony Avella blamed the city for neglecting tree maintenance and safety.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “You can’t keep saying it’s an act of God.”

Avella is calling on Bloomberg to suspend the MillionTrees NYC program and instead focus on the upkeep and maintenance of existing trees.

"How can the mayor want to plant a million trees if the city cannot even take care of the trees is already has?" Avella asked.

Avella has been critical of the Department of Parks and Recreation, citing its inability to maintain trees and act on complaints of homeowners requesting the removal or pruning of a tree.

Last month, Avella introduced new legislation that would ensure that public trees that cause damage, injury, or death are properly inspected, diagnosed, and analyzed within 48 hours of the incident. Avella said such reports would be made public.

“I have been saying for a while now that people’s lives are in danger as the result of the current city tree policy,” he said. “Unfortunately, I have been proven right.”

The Department of Parks released a statement shortly after the incident stating that the agency is "contracting an independent tree consultant to review all of our tree management procedures."

In the last eight weeks alone, there have been 12 reported incidents of tree-related injuries according to city park advocates. The city has recently paid out more than $14 million to settle to Central Park tree injuries and has numerous cases pending.

"The city allocates a fraction of the funds necessary to properly maintain and inspect its more than 2.6 million trees,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. “How many more people have to be killed or injured before the city begins to take this issue seriously."

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is calling for the Parks Department to inspect all trees in Kissena Park.

“The Parks Department needs to make sure there are no other trees in Kissena Park that are in danger of falling down,” she said.

Li-Dikov was sitting on a park bench when a 70-year-old, 60-foot tall oak tree split from the trunk and crushed her. Li was six months pregnant.

She and Aleksandar Dikov married in June 2012 and moved to New York in March from Texas, where Dikov was taking part in National Guard basic training.

Congresswoman Grace Meng announced that she is assisting the victim’s father, Zhong Liang Li, enter the country so he can organize and attend his daughter’s funeral.

“The death of Yingyi Li-Dikov is a terrible and heartbreaking tragedy,” said Meng. “We will work to make sure that her father is allowed entry to the U.S. when he arrives in New York, and we will continue to assist the family in any way we can.”

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