Bloomberg MillionTreesNYC: What I really think about trees


I have no idea how NYC Mayor Michael (“No One’s Ever called me a Tree Hugger Before”) Bloomberg really truly deeply feels about trees but his MillionTreesNYC “initiative” strikes me as mostly bluster and p.r. In case you missed the news, Mayor Bloomberg has designated April MillionTreesNYC Month.

Assessing the # of trees that have hit the chopping block during his administration (with his Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe), it becomes clear that when there is a chance to privatize or add a corporate interest to a public space, in Mayor Bloomberg’s book, it’s time for the fellows with the chain saws to move in.

No matter what Mayor Bloomberg’s press releases say, that is not “green” nor “sustainable” nor “ecological.” (Click here for a refresher on “greenwashing.”)

Nor is it how I think our city Parks Department is supposed to function — putting private interests over the care and stewardship of our city trees, open space and wildlife. You can read a previous entry on this here.

Trees that once stood in our boroughs prior to the Bloomberg administration:

*11 trees at Washington Square Park felled thus far to align the fountain — Naming rights sold to Tisch Family. Tisch Fountain, anyone? — with the Arch

*THOUSANDS of trees at Randall’s Island levied for private development to swoop in

*400 trees destroyed from two Bronx Parks, Mullally and Macombs parks, paved over for Yankee Stadium

*Over 105 trees sacrificed at East River Park for its “reconstruction”

And on the way:

*The proposal by Parks Commissioner Benepe to destroy 14 trees at Union Square Park to expand the restaurant space for his friend restauranteur Danny Meyer; and,

*Thousands of trees at Ridgewood Reservoir/Highland Park in Queens to cover over the naturally occurring landscape with Benepe’s favorite dangerous synthetic material: artificial turf.

At Washington Square Park, no one actually knows how many trees are coming down in later Phases of the City’s redesign plan. However, upon a closer look recently at the widening of the paths at the Park to accommodate machinery, it looks awfully tenuous how the living trees are being treated and questionable how many will survive the city’s “renovation.” (Trees affected by construction don’t die immediately so we wouldn’t see the results of this for 8-10 years.)

I think the picture above is fairly accurate in representing Mayor Bloomberg’s relationship to NYC’s trees. Something is wrong with the Mayor’s p.r. machine and how smoothly it is able to hide these statistics and machinations. (Yes, I know that’s what good p.r. people do but hopefully – ? – the media would see through it.)

*Thank you to the Queens Crap blog for unearthing this Bloomberg photo. They cover steadfastly the craziness that too often represents our city government and how it relates to the over-development of the borough of Queens, in ways that affect us all!

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11 thoughts on “Bloomberg MillionTreesNYC: What I really think about trees”

  1. Alternative Title for Photo:

    Mayor Bloomberg travels all over the City and pulls trees out of the chipper at the last moment.

    That’s what I’d expect the Mayor’s PR firm to put out.

  2. Naming rights sold to Tisch Family. Tisch Fountain, anyone?

    Actually, it’ll be renamed the Pisch fountain — “pisch” being the Yiddish term for pee — when, on opening day, activists gather to pee in the fountain! On yer mark, get set, …..

  3. Trees aren’t the only thing the Mayor is willing to destroy in our city. The man seems to want to demolish the entire city. Trees, old buildings, old and poor people, are all is his way. This approach to re-designing our city is inhuman and downright evil! This trend is reminiscent of Stalin’s Russia.

  4. thanks for posting your blog postings on the FCW Society list – its important to share information – it’s how change happens! It is nice to see the buds on the trees that are still standing !

    magic passion love!

  5. Uh, Mayor Mike is shown here chipping a Christmas tree. Those disturbing logs in the background won’t go in a chipper. Where was this photo taken?

    I hope your list of how many “lives lost” will be kept updated, and constantly placed in front of the media.

  6. Boy, Mike loves to talk about all the great things he’s doing for NYC, doesn’t he. When Koch was Mayor, he’d ask ‘how am I doin?’ Bloomberg tells you how he’s doing, your opinion is frankly completely irrelevant. See, Mike’s a Billionaire with a ‘B’ and is smarter than you and I. His decision making process is done in cooperation with God Almighty. Meanwhile, Manhattan is turning into one gigantic expensive condominium. That’s Mike’s legacy, and it ain’t pretty.

  7. hi heartpeace, by “lives lost,” I gather you mean of the trees? — thanks.
    p.s. yes, I get that re: “Mayor Mike.” The photo was priceless *because of* his record.

    john, good points. mayor bloomberg IS always telling us how he’s doing. and unfortunately much of the media repeats it verbatim.

    thanks for ALL your comments…

  8. I too have noted hundreds if not thousands of large and mature publicly owned shade trees blattantly removed on public improvement projects. DPR Capital Construction is not the only mayoral agency to fault on this. All other mayoral agencies (their engineers, architects, administrators and general contractors) engage equally in such egregious acts. To name them- Department of Design and Construction, Economic Deve Corp., Depart of Transportation, Depart. of ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION, BOE School Construction Authority, Department of Cultural Affairs (e.g Queens Botanical Garden). Not to forget the Authorities and the large and mature trees that inhabit those properties- NYC Housing Authority, Bridge and Tunnels and the Port Authority.

    One significant add-on is the absence of full protection of trees and their vital root zones during construction. If those extensive root zones are insuffiently protected and are impacted by excavation practices and the compaction of root bound soils by heavy equipment, trees will be force to to die a long deteriorating decline in health and death. Certainly not much different than having them blattantly removed. The lack of consideration of protection for stately trees has occurred to thousands of public trees and continues to be a regular practice (as so nted in Queens).

    Why is this occurring? Unlike numerous cities in Europe, there is no law or laws that fully protect trees that inhabit public lands. There are agency rules and regulations that protect trees, but are ignored on projects such as the Washington Square Park restoration or the Queens Botanical Garden tree fiascos. If such mishaps were clearly allowed to occur in a botanical garden- perhaps the corporations have already won!!

  9. hi Carsten,

    Thanks for writing. Excellent points about other city agencies (very comprehensive list – thanks) and the care of the trees during construction.

    It is a BIG concern regarding Washington Square Park that the tress are not being protected properly right now during the construction.

    I’d love to know more about the laws in Europe… Also the “agency rules and regulations” – whether they follow them, as you note, is the question – here in NYC.

    Thanks –


  10. Here it is 5 mos after a previous post and looking around little has changed for the protection and preservation of our only vital public resource- trees. The 1-million tree fiasco continues as marketed and planned, detracting and syphoning funds that could be used for the real concern…the protection of large trees.
    In the interum, the rare 40-inch dia Wych Elm street tree on Franklin Ave in Flushing (the once City of Trees) has succumb to even further damage and impacts by the indifferent School Construction Authority sabotaging the efforts by a Forester to prevent encroaching damages. The engineering and construction mantra- Worry about the dam tree later.
    With that, what role can the State play to enforce the City to uphold its own Administrative Code for the protection of this resource?.


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