Controller Scott Stringer’s office audit found that private contractors hired by the Parks Department were pruning Street trees that didn’t need to be while others that needed to be were not pruned at all. The Parks Department provided failed to give contractors lists of trees that needed to be pruned, or inaccurate lists and they could not produce evidence that the work was inspected. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge
By Geoffrey Croft
The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) has mismanaged the City’s street tree pruning program responsible for maintaining approximately 650,000 street trees citywide, increasing the risk of personal injury and property damage from falling branches, according to an audit released on Sunday by New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
The report focused on the parks department’s borough forestry offices mismanagement of contractors who prune street trees.
“When the Parks Department, with responsibility for 650,000 (street) trees, can’t figure out what the left hand and the right hand is doing, it causes a real danger to the community. It hurts the fiscal condition of our city,” said Stringer, who held a news conference on West 23rd Street near ninth Avenue in Chelsea on Sunday. The announcement was made near where someone was hit in the forehead by a falling branch in 2011, which resulted in a $4,000 settlement by the city.
“People are injured and sometimes even killed when trees are not properly cared for.”
Over the last few years the city had paid $390,000 to $14.8 million to settle claims related to injuries from falling branches Stringer said.
Manhattan and Staten Island were the two worst-performing boroughs while the comptroller singled out Queens as the only borough that emerged unscathed.