NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They come out of nowhere and it could happen at any time. Trees and tree branches have been crashing down creating the potential for serious injury and possibly death.
An increasing number of tragedies involving trees have raised questions about whether New York City is doing enough.
In recent years the city has paid out nearly $20 million to the injured or to families of people who were killed and sued the city for negligence, CBS 2′s Maurice Dubois reported Friday.
“I don’t know how I’m gonna deal with this. It’s already getting so hard on me,” Alexander Dikov told CBS 2 following his wife’s death.
Dikov’s pregnant wife was killed by a falling tree in a Queens park in August. It was the third death caused by a falling tree in three years, Dubois reported.
State Sen. Tony Avella called the situation unacceptable and said that the city hasn’t spent enough money to care for and maintain trees or to check for rotting limbs.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation of New York City is doing a failing job and they are putting people’s lives in danger,” Avella said.
Between 2007 and 2009 the city spent more than $15 million to prune trees. In the last three years it has spent $9 million, Avella said.
Parks officials told CBS 2 that the city has added funds for pruning and that a massive review of tree conditions is underway.
“We have 2.5 million trees and we’re taking a look at them and seeing, you know, what we can do in terms of those trees and what we can do around the city throughout the five boroughs,” Parks Commissioner Veronica White said.
Some New Yorkers said it’s not enough.
“What’s it gonna take? A kid on my block to be killed? It’s not right,” one Bronx resident said.
Arborist Dr. Carsten Glazer found worrisome conditions along pedestrian and bike paths near Orchard Beach Park in the Bronx after just seconds of searching.
“Here we have trees deader than a doorknob. Dead for a long time, too, I would guess,” Dr. Glazer said.
Critics want more to be done, but Commissioner White said that some fallen trees are inevitable.
“We have 2.5 million trees. So trees come down all the time in our parks, on our streets,” she said.
Some have also questioned the city’s long-term goal of planting 1 million new trees.
“Why plant more trees if we can’t take care of the ones that we have?” Ann Marie Sobel wondered.
The city has planted some 750,000 trees since the program began in 2007.
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