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A Million Trees? Not Next To My House, Staten Island Woman Says

Marilyn Kaiman

Marilyn Kaiman says a tree planted by the city near her home is making life difficult. (Credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As the city continues its Million Trees program of beautifying the city with hardy young trees, there are some residents who have voiced strong opposition to the effort.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, to Marilyn Kaiman of Staten Island does not have quite the same views on trees lately as the early 20th century poet Joyce Kilmer. Indeed, Kaiman might write, “I think that I shall never see something as troublesome as this curbside tree.”

“For me to get in and out of a car, to maneuver myself, is a hardship,” she said.

Kaiman, who is disabled from a traffic accident, has used the parking spot on the side of her home for 42 years. But that all changed in December, when the city planted two trees in front and a third one, which she didn’t want.

“Give it to somebody that wants it,” she said. “Don’t shove everything on me like you’re doing now. Like the mayor is doing with the soda; with the salt.”

In 2007, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bette Midler kicked off a decade-long initiative to plant 1 million trees in the five boroughs to cool temperatures, capture storm water and clean the air. But Kaiman said the tree in front of her house is under wires and attracts dogs.

“Does the city come and clean the poo-poo?” Kaiman said. “Does the city come and clean the leaves?”

She complained. The city replied saying removing a tree could result in a hefty fine and prison.

Kaiman and her husband say the nearby parking spot on their property is on an incline.

“I can’t always get into that car on the angle because I lose my balance,” she said.

Kaiman and her husband use another spot next to the home to collect fresh produce for the needy.

Parks Department spokeswoman Tara Kiernan said the new trees provide ”plenty of access room for passengers to get in and out of vehicles.”

And if Kilmer were to update his 1913 poem “Trees” it might read, “Poems are made by fools like me, but only the parks department can remove a tree.”

Since the Million Trees program began, the city has planted more than 662,000 trees – including both street and reforestation trees.

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