The Village of New Hyde Park will be going around tree-to-tree to inspect the damage caused in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the ensuing nor’easter, taking trees down where officials deem necessary in order to protect residents and property from further damage.
“Since the type of storm we had with 20-plus hours of winds the way we had them, once we’re in good shape with our cleanup, I am going through the entire village with an arborist and we’re going to reevaluate what trees may have been compromised from the winds and will still have to come down,” superintendent of public works Tom Gannon said. “I know we had a lot of trees that wanted to almost come down but didn’t come down and now with a 30 mile per hour wind, I don’t want to see a tree come down that could have been taken down.”
Robert Keefe of Ingraham Lane had posed the question at the village hall during the November 8 meeting of the village board as to whether or not an inventory of trees exist or why the village was not taking more trees down before the storm hit.
“Fundamentally it’s because somewhere, I think in the 80’s we had some blights in the area, we lost a lot of trees,” mayor Daniel Petruccio said. “We’ve really been trying to make an effort to plant trees wherever we can. A lot of our trees are young trees; they fared better in the hurricane but worse in the nor’easter because they’re now all overweighted with snow.”
The village will generally will not cut a tree down if it is deemed to be healthy, which is determined by an arborist. Some of the village crews are certified to assess healthy trees and outside firms are sometimes brought in once or twice a year.
For the past 10 years the village has planed “wire-friendly trees” that were reimbursed $25 per planting by LIPA. Most of these species are either Japanese or pear trees that grow to 25-35 ft. in height but if they are not trimmed properly, water collects at the trunk and the tree splits.
“We’ve lost a lot of those trees,” deputy mayor Robert Lofaro said.
As of the November 8 meeting, there were about 25 additional trees that the village knows it has to take down, including two on South 11th Street and a number of e-mails from residents reporting that trees have uplifted the sidewalk and fear has been compromised. There were a total of at least 70 trees in the village that were toppled by Hurricane Sandy.
The village had also recently completed an $85,000 tree trimming/removal program.
“I think to myself, ‘thank God, at least we do that seasonally every year’,” trustee Donald Barbieri said. “If that had not been done and those branches were still there that had been trimmed...”
It was noted that in the villages of Floral Park and Garden City the situation is reportedly worse since the trees in those areas are much older than in New Hyde Park and more trees were felled.