DPW Decision Called Into Question

In response to the county’s fly-by-night decision to remove 176 old oak trees along Seaman’s Neck Road, earlier this month, New York State Sen. Kemp Hannon has issued a letter to Nassau County Department of Public Works Commissioner Shila Shah-Gavnoudias regarding constituents’ concerns with the appearance of the roadway.

In his letter, Hannon asks Commissioner Shah-Gavnoudias if the removal of the trees were under the jurisdiction of LIPA or PSEG.

“If not, I would like to know who made the decision to remove these trees and why,” Hannon states. “I request you review this case and take whatever course of action necessary.”

According to Mike Martino, a spokesperson with the Nassau County Department of Public Works, the tree removal was not issued by either of the two utility companies.

Although there was no notice given to the residents of Seaman’s Neck Road, Martino said, the department removed the trees because they posed an immediate danger to pedestrians in the area.

“The county had to act,” Martino previously told the Levittown Tribune. “We had to do this job.”

Alice Anderson, who lives just around the corner from Seaman’s Neck Road, said that while the roadway does have pedestrian pathways, she has never seen more than five people a month traverse down the street.

“It’s not highly utilized,” Anderson said. “I’m 70 years old and I can still navigate it.”

Anderson said she frequently rides her bike down the street and has never fell due to any of the elevated sidewalks.

“How was this decision made,” she asked. “Why was the community not involved in the process?”

Other residents say the county had other options to fix the sidewalks, which would not have involved the removal of nearly 200 healthy trees.

In response to residents concerns, the county Department of Public Work says it plans to replant trees along Seaman’s Neck Road in the fall. “The county will plant as many trees as possible,” Martino said.

However, Anderson said she is skeptical of the county’s promises to replace all 176 of the 50-70 ft. oak trees.

“It’s not acceptable to put saplings in there,” she said. “This would never happen in communities like Garden City, Westbury or Brookville… I think the community should ban together and form a class action suit.”

First appeared in the Levittown Tribune on Aug. 30, 2014.

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