Brooklyn Daily Eagle – June 06, 2017
by Julianne Cuba
They wanted the city to branch out.
The city should have moved faster to snip off a dangerously dangling branch from a Kimball Street tree that neighbors repeatedly warned the Parks Department about for more than a month, locals charge.
“There’s children on that side of the street — that’s where they play,” said Kimball Street resident Barbara Wagner. “But they never came.”
Wagner’s neighbor, Rita Gioia, started calling the Parks Department about the city-owned tree between Avenues U and T at the start of May, and a supervisor did come by and confirm it needed to be pruned — but when no one ever came to do the job.
So Gioia eventually enlisted the help of some of her pals among New York’s Bravest, who finally removed the branch on May 31. But it should not have taken calling in a favor from local firefighters to get rid of the hazard, she said.
“The firefighters came last night, it was amazing, every neighbor came out on the block. They even said it was on an electrical wire. I was such a nervous wreck, that’s all I worry about,” she said. “That branch was hanging, I was willing to pay to have it done. The Parks Department, it’s their responsibility, it’s their tree.”
Gioia started calling 311 on May 1, and again on May 12, when it was noted in the database about three weeks later that the Parks Department would “correct the condition” by July 1, according to city records.
But in the wake of the cement planter that killed 8-year-old Kevin Reilly just a few blocks away, the close-knit block was worried that a little gust of wind could bring the branch crashing down on a kid, and Gioia didn’t want to take any chances — she was ready to pay her own private landscaper to help, who told her he didn’t have permission to trim a city tree, she said.
“I’ll pay for someone to do it — god forbid it falls,” said Gioia, before it was removed. “It’s hanging by a wire.”
Gioia made some phone calls to friends in the Fire Department, and the red engine pulled up on May 31 at about 8:30 pm and finally took down the threatening branch to save the day, she said.
A Fire Department spokesman had no details on the pruning, but said members can and do help out in the community.
“It’s very possible our members did assist a resident if asked,” the spokeman said. “That’s what FDNY members do — serve the community.”
The Parks Department’s Parks Forestry staff inspected the tree on May 17th, and its arborists found it to be in good condition that did not warrant an emergency pruning, though it’s still scheduled for regular trimming, said a spokeswoman from the agency.
“Our arborists are experts and take many factors into consideration when determining whether emergency pruning is needed,” she said. “Risk is determined by the likelihood of a branch hitting a target and the consequence of that impact. This branch was found to be lightweight and low risk.”
Gioia is still waiting for the Parks Department to trim the rest of the overgrown tree, she said.