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Fight Over Pear Trees Is Latest Front In War Over UES Garbage Transfer Station

Row Of 30-Year-Old Trees Would Be Casualties According To City's Construction Plan

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Angry demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday demanding a halt to the city’s plans to remove a row of 30-year-old pear trees to build a controversial garbage dump.

In their latest attempt to derail the building of the garbage transfer station at Asphalt Green, angry Upper East Side residents hit the city with charges of arboricide because the Department of Sanitation is going to remove a row of eight pear trees as part of the construction, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.

“Why do the trees have to come down? It is gratuitous, ignoring of the community and of Asphalt Green. They are negotiating in bad faith,” said Asphalt Green executive director Carol Tweedy.

“Trees kill the pollution. You do not want to cut down trees,” added Dr. York Battey.

“This will hurt and harm our children. They’re doing this, taking trees down right before camp starts. I mean, they can’t wait till after that? I mean that’s just like absurd,” local resident Rosemary Bergin added.

While residents don’t want to see the trees to come down, they want the city to stop building the garbage transfer station even more. They say it’s dangerous because the ramp to the dump bisects Asphalt Green. Camp classrooms are on one side of the ramp; the playing fields on the other. Kids have to walk past the trucks to get to the field.

The city’s new sanitation commissioner, Kathryn Garcia, told Kramer that she and Mayor Bill de Blasio are trying to be good neighbors, negotiating with the community to make things better.

She says:

* The city has hired an engineer to study the feasibility of moving the ramp.

* Construction will be halted during the summer camp season

* The trees will eventually be replaced.

* A traffic enforcement agent will be on duty to guard against accidents with pedestrians.

“Do I believe that a man with a little flag can protect thousands of children? No, I do not. That is not safe, so if they are going to move the ramp why do the trees have to come down?” Tweedy said.

Meanwhile, the city’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus sent a letter to the mayor urging him not to halt development of the Asphalt Green transfer station. They say it’s only fair for Manhattan to handle its own garbage, and that communities in north Brooklyn, southeast Queens and the South Bronx have a disproportionate number of waste disposal sites, Kramer reported.

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