By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
UPPER EAST SIDE — A Parks Department plan to transplant a tree uprooted by Second Avenue subway construction from the Upper East Side to the Bronx was met with fierce resistance by residents in the soon-to-be denuded area.
Members of Community Board 8's parks committee were irate last week when MTA officials told them of the unexpected need to remove street trees — originally slated to be seven and then limited to five — as they begin setting up a staging area on the east side of Second Avenue between 70th and 72nd streets to build a new station at 72nd Street.
The Parks Department determined that one tree was small enough to be transplanted and would move to the Bronx. Four trees will simply be removed. The community board adamantly opposed any trees leaving their neighborhood.
"We don't want to lose our trees. They are not an ornament," said Margaret Price, co-chair of CB8's parks committee. "They are necessary for our health."
Parks Department officials planned to take the community board's view into consideration before issuing a permit for removing the four trees and one transplant, a spokesperson said.
"As the board requested, we will make every effort to place the transplanted tree in a suitable site nearby or elsewhere within the Community Board 8 area," said the Parks spokesperson.
The contractor will be required to pay $46,848 to the Parks Department as restitution for the four trees that are being removed. That would enable Parks to plant 25 new trees, the spokesperson said, adding that the department has planted more than 360 trees in the area with previous funds from trees removed because of the subway construction.
With several studies indicating that trees help clean the air and cut pollutants that trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory problems, the Bloomberg Administration has focused on the greening of city streets.
The Bronx had the highest rate of all the boroughs of childhood asthma hospitalization in 2000, with 9.16 children per 1,000 aged 0-14 being hospitalized, according to New York City Health Department data from 2000, but Manhattan's East Harlem was the neighborhood with the highest overall rate (17.18) followed by Central Harlem/Morningside Heights (12.68). The Upper East Side had the relatively low rate of 1.75 per 1,000 for that year.
The Health Department did, however, find that the Upper East Side had the dirtiest air in the city. The toxins stem from the area's large number of buildings burning dirty heating oil and the high volume of traffic.