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Long Beach begins second phase of tree-planting effort

Trees recently planted along Beech Street in Long

Trees recently planted along Beech Street in Long Beach on Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Long Beach contractors are planting 150 new trees as part of the city’s continuing effort to replace trees destroyed during superstorm Sandy.

The City Council approved a contract last month to start work in the coming weeks to plant various types of trees throughout the city, on public property and in neighborhoods.

The city’s contract with Brooklyn-based Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping Nursery and Florist will pay $145,096 for providing and planting the trees under the city’s tree-replanting master plan.

While the first phase of replanting trees began last year, this year’s crop set to be planted throughout October in a second phase was finalized in the city’s spring capital plan.

“This is such an important part of our Long Beach community,” Long Beach City Council President Len Torres said. “These trees are very important for shade in addition to absorbing flooding and water in the city.”

The city is not planting any trees on private property and has no funding to remove sick or dying trees from homes, Torres said. Homeowners are responsible for any removal on private property.

Long Beach workers and landscapers planted about 1,900 trees last year. Some residents said several of those trees on their blocks have died, such as between Edwards and National boulevards. City officials have replanted trees, but some may still be sick.

Any new trees planted under the city’s master plan are insured and can be replaced, city officials said.

Long Beach Corporation Counsel Robert Agostisi said the city is compiling a list of dead trees to submit to its contractor to ensure new trees are replanted.

Most trees are expected to grow 12 to 18 feet tall, though some shade trees could eventually grow to 50 feet. Shade and flowering trees were planted in the East End.

Tree replacements throughout the city have been covered largely through a $1.3 million state Community Development Block Grant awarded by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year. The total project includes eventually planting 2,700 new trees, which account for 300 more trees than were present before Sandy.

Replanting trees was estimated to cost the city $1.5 million, which will be entirely grant-funded, following the state’s award, a $75,000 grant secured by Legis. Denise Ford and $75,000 from actor and Long Beach native Billy Crystal.

Funding was secured after Crystal and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) advocated for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover $2.5 million for tree removal and planting new trees, but FEMA allocated only $400,000 for cutting down trees. The remaining funds were covered through grants and city funding.

REPLACING THE TREES

2015 first phase: 1,900 trees, $1.5 million

2016 second phase $150 trees, $149,000

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