Several Clayton Avenue residents attended the Floral Park Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday, May 2 to make a case for saving the trees on their road when it undergoes reconstruction later this summer.
The neighbors cited other streets that had been repaved and lost all of their trees in the process. They pointed, in particular, to Marshall Avenue as an example of what they did not want to happen to their street. Many of them had moved to the neighborhood because of the tree canopy and did not want to see that lost.
Joseph Franzetti, a Clayton Avenue resident and a local business owner, opened the public comment with this view on the situation.
“Once I learned that they were going to reconstruct the street, that was fine; [I thought], ‘They’re going to pave the street, make it smoother, things will be great.’ But then I understood also that they were planning to remove most of the significant trees on the block,” he said. “I was harshly opposed to it.”
Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald assured the residents that an arborist had been consulted to see which trees must be taken down and which could stay.
Of the 17 on the street, the arborist assessed that six needed to be removed no matter what, four would maybe need to be removed depending on the reconstruction and six would likely be safe from removal.
But the Clayton Avenue residents thought it likely that more than six trees would end up being removed in the end. They also argued that the trees, or their roots, are not actually causing any damage to the road or the drainage.
One neighbor, an engineer, said that there was “no tremendous compromising of the road.”
“It’s not being ripped up or upheaved,” he said. “It’s minimal: on a scale of one to 10, if it’s a two maybe.”
The residents presented possible solutions such as narrowing the road, having gutters instead of curbs, doing a more superficial fix of the road and getting a second opinion from another arborist.
Fitzgerald responded that the road could not be narrowed because emergency vehicles needed access and that the residents could pay for a second opinion if they wanted to.
But he said he could not promise that the board would take the advice of a second arborist, although they would definitely look at it. He also mentioned that it was town policy to have curbs instead of gutters and that a superficial fix would not be enough.
Additionally, one resident, Anthony Citrola, came to argue that while he appreciates the trees, the road is in severe need of being redone. He said his house floods when it rains, and there are large holes in the pavement around his driveway.
“I feel bad because I’m talking more or less against my neighbors,” he said. “But it’s got to be done.”
Fitzgerald continued to say the village would do its best to save as many trees as possible, but the contract had already been signed and the street needed to be repaved for safety issues.
Deputy Mayor Lynn Pombonyo concluded by thanking the residents for coming to voice their concerns.
“I want to thank you all for coming in and thank you for your thoughtfulness in bringing up things that the whole board may be hearing for the first time and it’s actually important that all of us – all five of us – heard what you had to say,” she said. “So, I appreciate that. Appreciate the thought you put into the comments you made today.”