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Prospect Park Slowly Replanting 500 Trees Lost During Sandy

By Leslie Albrecht | October 28, 2015 7:20pm
 The park lost more than 500 trees in the 2012 storm, some of which will be replanted with grant money.
Prospect Park Still Recovering from Sandy, But New Grant Money Will Help
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PARK SLOPE — Three years after Superstorm Sandy, Prospect Park is still bouncing back, but a new grant will go a long way toward repairing the damage in Brooklyn's backyard.

"It's still recovering, but we're moving in a good direction," said Christian Zimmerman, vice president for capital and landscape management at the Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit that maintains the park. "[The damage] was so far reaching that it's going to be a slow process."

Officials felt lucky that the storm left all of the park's buildings unscathed, but the park's natural assets were hard hit — Sandy destroyed or damaged more than 500 trees in the 585-acre green oasis.

Towering trees that dated back to the park's 1867 opening were snapped like matchsticks, and some wooded areas were left looking like they had been bombed, Zimmerman recalled.

Since then, "quite a few" trees have been replaced, though no one has been counting so there is no exact figure, Zimmerman said.

Almost a year after the storm, the park unveiled the Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area, a play area for children that was created using trees damaged by Sandy and other storms.

In 2014, the U.S. National Park Service awarded a $727,000 grant for repairs at the Vale of Cashmere, an empty fountain where marble features were chipped by fallen trees.

The recovery effort got a big boost in August when the NPS awarded a $488,000 grant that will be used for new trees and other improvements at Lookout Hill, the park's highest point. That work is expected to start in the spring.

Zimmerman said Sandy fundamentally changed how park planners approach their jobs.

"We're looking at how to reduce flooding when we get these huge storms, and how can we — in design and construction — accommodate that?" Zimmerman said. "Sandy did that. Any project we look at, we look at resiliency and how they'll hold up in these violent storms."