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Bette Midler, Bloomberg, De Blasio Team Up to Plant 1 Millionth Tree

By Eddie Small | November 20, 2015 4:09pm | Updated on November 22, 2015 8:27pm
 The city and NYRP completed the MillionTreesNYC project on Friday in Joyce Kilmer Park.
MillionTreesNYC completed
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CONCOURSE — Bette Midler, Michael Bloomberg and Mayor Bill de Blasio joined forces on Friday morning to officially complete the city's MillionTreesNYC project in the South Bronx.

The Broadway star met with the mayors in Joyce Kilmer Park to plant an American linden, officially ending the MillionTreesNYC campaign that began in 2007 as a collaboration between the Parks Department and Midler's New York Restoration Project.

Midler maintained that the best part of the campaign was its role in promoting the idea that every New Yorker deserves access to nice green spaces regardless of where in the city they live.

"That's a fantastic idea, and it's a relatively new idea," she said. "It's only a few years old that everyone suddenly said 'Yeah, I deserve my park, too, and my park deserves to be beautiful.' So that's, I think, the greatest thing that we accomplished."

De Blasio and Bloomberg showed no signs of the bad blood that has previously marked their relationship, with each praising the other for their work in seeing the campaign through to completion and describing it as a way to ensure a healthier and more sustainable New York City.

“The visionary stands to my right in the stylish yellow sweater,” de Blasio said. “The visionary was Michael Bloomberg, and we’re here to give him a lot of credit.”

De Blasio also referred to Bloomberg as “the man of the hour” when introducing him and said he did several great things for the city while he was mayor.

“He has a lot to be proud of today,” de Blasio said.

Bloomberg responded in kind, thanking de Blasio for “all the hard work that you and your administration has done to get us to the millionth tree and counting.”

The planting was originally supposed to take place on Oct. 21 but was rescheduled after the death of Officer Randolph Holder the night before.

Bloomberg offered some words of tribute for the officer in his remarks.

“He and his family remain in our thoughts, and we’ll always be grateful for his selfless service to our city and the people that live here,” he said.

The tree planted in Joyce Kilmer Park today was technically number 1,017,634 and de Blasio stressed that the completion of MillionTreesNYC did not represent the end of greening and planting efforts in the city.

He pledged that there would be 150,000 more trees planted over the next three years in support of continuing the effort, and NYRP Executive Director Deborah Marton said that her group is already working to plant 1,200 more trees in Mott Haven.

MillionTreesNYC resulted in roughly 285,000 new trees in Queens, 277,000 in The Bronx, 183,000 in Brooklyn, 173,000 in Staten Island and 80,000 in Manhattan.

City parks received 595,000 trees, while 155,000 were street trees and 250,000 went to private and other open spaces.

The initiative was originally anticipated to end in 2017 but was completed two years ahead of schedule, which de Blasio gave Midler a lot of credit for.

"Bette Midler has been alleged to be divine," he said. "When government gets something done two years ahead of schedule, it must have involved divine intervention. So that proves that you are divine."