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Local News July 18, 2013  RSS feed

HOLIDAY TREE GROWS AGAIN IN WOODHAVEN

After Mixup, Evergreen Sapling Coming To Plaza
by Robert Pozarycki

Woodhaven will be getting a new evergreen to replace the one lost during Hurricane Sandy which served for decades as the neighborhood’s holiday tree.

The Parks Department informed the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday, July 16, that it will remove a deciduous sapling previously planted where the old evergreen once stood at Forest Parkway Plaza—at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway— and plant a new evergreen tree in its place during the fall.

The change will be made at the behest of Woodhaven residents who desired a new evergreen to replace the tall spruce which stood at the site for generations before being toppled by the winds of Hurricane Sandy last October. The Parks Department had recently planted the non-evergreen sapling at the spruce’s former location.

When the tree switch is made this autumn, the non-evergreen tree will be transplanted “to another location nearby,” according to a statement from the Parks Department.

A Facebook page titled “Restore Woodhaven’s Holiday Tree” was launched last week by Woodhaven residents requesting the tree switch in order for the community to have an evergreen to decorate and light for the holiday season every year.

Following the tree’s demise last year, the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation (GWDC), as in previous years, held its holiday celebration at Forest Parkway Plaza, but used an artificial tree in the evergreen’s former spot.

Alex Blenkinsopp, communications director of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, explained in a column published in the Times Newsweekly last week the organization and others in the area sought “an authentic replacement” for the former evergreen to serve as the center of the community’s annual holiday festivities .

“We want an evergreen to take the place of our lost one,” Blenkinsopp wrote. “We want a replacement that could serve as a holiday tree—one that’s distinctive and will look lively during the holiday season and will eventually grow to resemble the tree we lost.”

Blenkinsopp said neither the organization nor others in the neighborhood harbored ill feelings toward the deciduous sapling planted there, but charged that the tree was simply located in the wrong spot.

Maria Thomson, executive director of the GWDC, told the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday she had requested last year a new evergreen be planted at the site of the toppled tree, which had been planted by the organization

27 years earlier and stood three stories tall.

She pointed out the New York Daily News ranked the Woodhaven tree in 2011 fourth among all Christmas/ holiday trees across the city, behind only the trees at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park and the New York Stock Exchange.

“Being #4 with these million dollar locations places us in very pricey company,” Thomson said. “Imagine we are a small BID (business improvement district) in Queens with one of the lowest budgets covering 25 city blocks, and we still rate [sic] #4 amongst 10.”

After discovering that the Parks Department planted a deciduous tree in its place, Thomson stated, she reached out to the agency about the apparent mix-up. She was pleased the Parks Department agreed to make the switch.

Ed Wendell, WRBA president, was also glad to learn of the new evergreen coming to Forest Parkway Plaza in speaking with the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday.

“I’m really happy that it worked out the way it did,” he said. “The right thing was done. What was placed there originally was inappropriate and inadequate.”