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Tree-Less UWS Block 'Stands Out Like a Sore Thumb,' Residents Say

By Emily Frost | July 9, 2014 8:41am
 Residents said the block should have trees and a bus shelter, like other neighborhood blocks. 
Broadway Block With No Trees
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Nearly four months after workers finished tearing up and repaving a highly trafficked Broadway sidewalk to make way for new retail development, residents want to know why no trees have been planted on the block.

The stretch —  between West 77th and 78th streets, which was redeveloped to add a Marshall's and CVS — is surrounded by leafy retail blocks to the north and south. Residents said the street in question used to have trees, and photos of the block before construction began in summer 2011 show at least one sprouting from the sidewalk closer to West 78th Street.

"The new development there was built with no trees at all and [the block] stands out like a sore thumb," said Howard Buford, a 28-year resident of the neighborhood. "The block now looks industrial and does not at all reflect the pleasant residential nature of the surrounding tree-lined streets."

Additionally, a city bus shelter for the M104 line was removed during construction, and the local community board recently approved the installation of a newsstand on the stretch. 

Neighbors have spoken out against the move they called backwards city planning, telling Community Board 7 it was prioritizing a newsstand over public amenities like trees and a bus shelter.

"We think it’s inappropriate to have [the newsstand] there" without designing the rest of the block first, argued West 78th Street resident John Genopolus.

The newsstand still needs approval from the Department of Consumer Affairs. 

Nearby resident Michael Mala, who noted that shade-providing trees are a hallmark of the neighborhood, said the stretch was "overlooked by the city." 

A representative of the Parks Department, which manages the installation and maintenance of street trees, said it had gotten several requests over the past month to add trees to the block. 

"We will inspect conditions at this site and determine if it is suitable for new trees to be planted," said Parks representative Philip Abramson, who did not have information about the timing of the inspection. 

The Parks Department will also ask the developer, Friedland Properties, to check if it has a requirement to fund the addition of trees, he said. 

Friedland spokesman Rich Shea said the developer planned to fund the installation of one tree on the block, closer to West 78th Street, but did not have information about the timing. 

The DOT did not respond to a request for comment regarding the bus shelter.