New York City Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, NYRP Executive Director Amy Freitag, and President of the Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership Dan Biederman, were joined by Borough President Marty Markowitz and Council Member Diana Reyna at the park to present the holiday gift of 74 trees to the residents and community of Bushwick. Additionally, 20 students from P.S. 123, an elementary school located across the street from the park, penned and read a poem about how much Maria Hernandez Park and its trees mean to them.
New York Restoration Project (NYRP), in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, announced today the planting of 74 new trees in Maria Hernandez Park in Brooklyn to replace the more than 50 large, caliper trees that were lost as a result of the storm that devastated parts of New York City on September 16, 2010. The Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership donated an additional grant to support supplementary park landscaping and maintenance.
"Last September, New York City and its parks, and Maria Hernandez Park in particular, were hit by one of the worst storms in modern history," said Commissioner Benepe. "But New Yorkers are known for their resilience, and I am so proud to be here today, only three months later, to celebrate the first effort to rebuild and restore what was lost in that natural disaster. On behalf of Parks, I'd like to thank the New York Restoration Project and the Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership for their dedication to planting trees and planting hope in this neighborhood oasis."
"New York Restoration Project's partnership with the New York City Parks Department to replant these 74 new trees in Maria Hernandez Park is a proud example of how our continued collaboration allows us to accomplish great things on behalf of New York City," said Amy Freitag, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project. "As a helping hand to the Parks Department, it's NYRP's job to step up to the plate when tragedy, devastation or budget cuts strike and make sure our city's parks, community gardens and open spaces remain green and accessible and our urban forest continues to grow strong."
The tree planting in Maria Hernandez Park was made possible through MillionTreesNYC lead sponsors BNP Paribas, The Home Depot Foundation and Toyota, as well as funds raised at NYRP's annual fundraising gala, Hulaween - which raised more than $460,000 to support the organization's tree-planting activities citywide.
On September 16, 2010, two tornadoes and a macroburst tore through New York City, uprooting trees, damaging cars and peeling roofs from houses. The storm's tree destruction stretched uninterrupted from Park Slope through Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn, into Ridgewood, Queens and all the way through Queens to Bayside. In Staten Island the worst damage was on the North Shore, with another pocket of damage on the South Shore. More than 3,500 trees were damaged or destroyed in this massacre by Mother Nature.
Maria Hernandez Park was especially a scene of devastation; endless rows of fallen trees struck by lightning or uprooted by the tumultuous winds that took the sidewalks with them. NYRP saw the destruction and recognized the important need to step in. NYRP's MillionTreesNYC team quickly assembled - and in coordination with the NYC Parks Department - created a planting plan and had all 74 trees successfully in the ground by December 10, 2010.
Trees (2.5" caliper up to 5.0" caliper or 8' to 16' tall) that were planted in Maria Hernandez Park include Silver and Little-leaf Lindens, Pin Oaks, Japanese Zelkovas, deciduous Evergreen Dawn Redwoods, Flowering Kwanzan Cherries and Yellow Woods. These 74 trees will provide residents with the health, environmental and economic benefits that large caliper trees provide, giving ample tree canopy that will maximize these benefits in a shorter period of time.
In addition, Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership is contributing $100,000 to support additional park landscape and maintenance.
"We are thrilled at the suggestion of Commissioner Benepe to be one of the ‘older brothers' of Maria Hernandez Park as the Dept of Parks and Recreation seeks to diversify revenues beyond reliance on government funding alone. We at Bryant Park, Herald Square Park and Greeley Square Park think Maria Hernandez Park has great promise as a ‘town square' for Bushwick," said Bryant Park Corporation and 34th Street Partnership President Dan Biederman.
Officially launched in October 2007 by NYRP and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, MillionTreesNYC is one of 127 goals set forth under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's PlaNYC, the city's sweeping, long-term sustainability blueprint. An innovative, public-private initiative with an important and ambitious goal - to plant and care for one million new trees across the city's five boroughs by 2017 - MillionTreesNYC will increase New York's urban forest by more than 20 percent, provide New Yorkers important health, economic and environmental benefits, and create a more sustainable urban environment. To date, the program has planted 413,357 trees citywide.
For more information on MillionTreesNYC, visit www.milliontreesnyc.org