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Verizon Subcontractor Fined by City After Damaging Trees on 80th Street

By Katie Honan | January 9, 2017 8:47am
 Neighbors complained about Verizon subcontractors damaging trees on 80th Street in Jackson Heights.
Neighbors complained about Verizon subcontractors damaging trees on 80th Street in Jackson Heights.
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Dr. Bohdan Hoshovsky

​JACKSON HEIGHTS — A Verizon subcontractor was slapped with five summonses from the Parks Department after damaging trees during an excavation on 80th Street, officials said.

Workers began digging a trench on the eastern side of 80th Street between 37th and 35th avenues on Wednesday, officials said.

Neighbors found saw marks on the roots of two trees and feared even more damage to plants including a mature London Plane and a Pin Oak.

Tree damage on 80th Street.

The Jackson Heights Beautification Group, along with other concerned neighbors, complained to Councilman Danny Dromm who forwarded the issue to the Parks Department. 

When a department forester arrived, they found the company working for Verizon had failed to obtain a permit, which is required when working near trees.

They also didn't have an arborist working with them during construction, which is also required.

The company was given four summonses for minor tree damage and one for illegal excavation, according to the Parks Department. 

"Trees are living, breathing parts of our communities which provide substantial benefits to our city and, as such, they are protected under city laws," Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said in an email.

"Failing to take the proper precautions when working around trees is a serious offense and can do irreparable damage to our urban forest."

The Parks Department ordered the company to stop work until they bring an arborist to the site. 

Len Maniace, the president of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, called the subcontractor's working without a contract a "flagrant violation of the rules."

"What's more, if they cut any major roots, that's a safety hazard," he said.

"Big trees could come crashing down in high winds, killing or injuring people and damaging cars and other property.

Councilman Danny Dromm called the work an "absolute disgrace."

"To attack a tree like that and saw the roots of old trees in an historic district is an attempt at arborcide and it's not taken lightly," he said.

He said he's following-up with Verizon to discuss further construction in Jackson Heights.

A spokesman for Verizon said he was looking into the issue.