A Floral Park road reconstruction project that’s removing trees from a residential road lined with century old oak trees has received pushback from residents who live among the Locust Street greenery.
Joan Donnelly, a Floral Park native who has lived on Locust Street for nearly three decades, called the project a slaughter of what was once a canopy of trees.
“This block looks like a ghetto,” Donnelly said. “We only have, I think, we’re going to have maybe five trees standing on this block.”
Donnelly has emerged as a Lorax-like figure in the residential backlash of the project. She spoke for more than 40 minutes at a recent village meeting, before a packed room, she said.
Residents were notified about the project in a letter dated dated June 18.
Mayor Dominick Longobardi wrote to residents telling them the Locust Street project that was set to begin June 25.
Longobardi said in an interview the village wanted the project to begin after school ended, and is hoping it will be finished before the next school year starts.
The tree removal is not the intent of the project, but rather a byproduct, Longobardi said.
“We don’t get rid of any trees we don’t have to,” Longobardi said. “I do feel horrible about the fact that people are upset.”
Longobardi said the million dollar project, being done by the Woodbury-based D and B Engineers and Architects, is a full road reconstruction.
The project will add new curbing, driveway aprons and drainage gutters to the block.
New trees will also be planted to replace those removed, according to the letter.
Many of the tree roots had grown into the street, destabilizing it and leading to the damage, Longobardi said.
Donnelly said there was prior talk of the project, but residents had short notice about its arrival.
“I got a wet note under my doormat at 6:30 in the morning when I went out to take my dog saying road work would begin sorry for any inconvenience…” Donnelly said. “At least I got that letter, most people I talked to didn’t even get that.”
Donnelly said with the proximity to July 4, many residents were away on vacation.
“I spoke to one fellow Saturday, he just got back from vacation, he’s like ‘What the hell happened here?'” Donnelly said.
The mayor’s letter is also available to view online.
The project had been in the works since 2016, Longobardi said. The village held off due to construction being done at Floral Park Memorial High School.
The village didn’t want trucks bringing equipment to and from the high school to be driving up and down the new road, Longobardi said.
Longobardi said the project had also been discussed at board and civic association meetings. He also discussed it at a recent AARP meeting, he said.
Donnelly said the tree removal could have been avoided, adding that D and B is the only firm the village uses and no other firms were sought to get an opinion.
Longobardi said the village did not reach out to other firms, because D and B has completed other road work projects for the village.
“So many things could have been done,” Donnelly said. “Roads are repaired all the time, and nothing like this has ever happened … this is beyond bizarre.”
Efforts to reach D and B architects were unavailing.
Although Donnelly said her fate is sealed, she said she hopes she can help spare other residents the “anguish and the heartache” Locust Street residents have experienced.
“We’re all wondering, who is next?” Donnelly said.
Longobardi said each road’s needs are unique to how it is engineered.
“Each road is different, and we hope that we never have to take down any trees on any of these road projects,” Longobardi said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Klar by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 204, or follow her on Twitter @rebeccaklar_.