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Locals poke fun at Astoria trees planted in the middle of the sidewalk

The NYC Parks Department planted several trees in the middle of the sidewalk on 29th Street in Astoria. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

Jan. 3, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

 

Astoria residents woke up the day after Christmas to find four new trees planted smack in the middle of the sidewalk. 

The new trees, planted along 29th Street between Broadway and 31st Avenue, came as a surprise since the city generally plants trees alongside curbs. 

Residents posted pictures of the trees on social media, and they blew up in a local Facebook group and on the r/astoria subreddit page. Many visited the site to take a look for themselves and poke fun at their placement, with some even decorating them.

Some speculated on social media that the placement was to deter scooters and cyclists from riding on the sidewalk, while others suggested that the placement would make the shade effects more impactful in the summer. 

“I think it’s a win win all around. It doesn’t change my walking needs,” commented Samae Allred on Facebook. “Especially in Astoria where none of the walk ways are that busy.”

But not all residents agreed, and many thought it was a “dumb” idea. Those against the centralized trees said it would be a nuisance to pedestrians, especially those with strollers and shopping carts. 

“It’s also going to be an issue when garbage bags are left curbside for collection, which will leave a single 6′ wide passage for pedestrians,” added Steve Scofield, in one of the over 200 comments on the Facebook post.

Several days after the trees were planted, decorations were also put up. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

Alongside the curb, red spray paint markings indicated that there were utility lines underneath that made curbside placement unsuitable. Underground utilities are a common type of constraint that prevent the Parks Dept. from planting trees in certain locations where they appear to be suitable. 

“At Parks, we aim to plant trees at every viable location, making our city greener, cleaner, and cooler. While similar tree placements in other locations have been successful, we’ve heard from the community that we missed the mark with these four trees, and we will be relocating the trees to more appropriate locations,” a NYC Parks representative told QNS.

It is unclear when the trees will be removed and replanted, but the Parks Dept. confirmed that they are looking to transfer them and replace the concrete on the sidewalks as soon as possible.

Residents hung ornaments and images of celebrities poking fun at the odd location of the trees. Photo by Iryna Shkurhan

The reddit user who started the conversation, u/Hexelein, said “I hope people do something really fun with it before it’s taken down” in the original post. And locals complied.

On Tuesday morning, the lone tree across the street from the three others, had Christmas ornaments as well as cutouts of Larry David and Fran Lebowitz – two comedians who would surely have something funny to say about the city’s missed mark.

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