Parks Department celebrates 500 New Trees, as More are Uprooted from East River Park

Posted on: January 6th, 2021 at 5:06 am by

Photo: Tommy Loeb

Replacement greenery is on the way for the Lower East Side.

At the tail end of last year, the Parks Department celebrated the 500th tree planted on the Lower East Side as part of the ongoing East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project. This is the halfway mark of the larger plan to plant 1,000 trees in the area most directly affected by the $1.45 billion resiliency project.

“Each tree helps to make our neighborhoods greener and healthier, and we are proud to expand our urban forest along Manhattan’s East Side while we work to improve waterfront parks and provide lifesaving flood protections through the ESCR project,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver. “By improving air quality, mitigating the urban heat island effect, and beautifying the area, these 500 trees will help serve the community while nearby parks are enhanced and made more resilient than ever.”

As of a few days ago, trees were planted at Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center and Corlears Hook Park. The remnant will be planted over the next two years.

“Trees act as lungs for our city,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “So it’s great news when more trees get planted, improving quality of life not just for human New Yorkers but the many kinds of non-bipeds who use them!”

However, the jury’s still out on whether this is an even trade; over a thousand mature trees are projected to come down by the end. (Planting of 1,800 new trees is planned, though.) Despite vociferous criticism from Lower East Side locals, city officials maintain that the current plan better protects East River Park, as sea levels continue to rise due to climate change.

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