An award-winning tree bed on East 14th Street that was built by neighborhood children and celebrated by local pols has been ripped out and destroyed, and neighbors are pointing a finger at the management company of a nearby apartment building.
The tree bed, located on East 14th Street between Gravesend Neck Road and Avenue X, was one of several designed and built in 2011 by children on the block who, along with parents, wanted to battle litter and beautify the street. Dirty, trash-covered pits were filled with trees and flowers, given tree guards, and kids painted environmentally friendly messages like “Stop Littering – Save the World” that were installed into each fixture. Parents raised money for the improvements by knocking on neighbors’ doors and doing online fundraising.
The tree well near the apartment building was the crown jewel of the lot, besting scores of other entries in Million Trees NYC’s “My tree NYC: Beautiful Tree Bed Contest,” taking first place citywide.
But the accolades didn’t make a difference to the management company of the apartment building, which is located at 2365 East 13th Street but has a back exit and waste disposal area on East 14th Street, who, according to project organizer Julia Chernova, ripped out the display over the weekend.
“[The management company] told me that the tree guard didn’t meet specifications and that the super was instructed to weed the tree beds, because they were ‘unsightly,’” Chernova told Sheepshead Bites. “He simply cleared the entire tree bed – all the sunflowers, daisies, marigolds and other plants, and repeated the process in the other tree beds along the block.”
“My kid cried inconsolably yesterday, and I was hard put to explain why someone would tear out flowers,” she added.
Chernova said the timing of the destruction suggests it may have been the management’s way of getting back at her and other neighbors for complaining about the building’s garbage disposal practices.
“This happened a week after I complained to Sanitation Dept about the garbage bags that they throw on our sidewalk, street, and tree beds (after I asked the management of the building and the super to handle it more carefully, but didn’t get any response). Their response — get rid of flowers,” Chernova wrote. “The Super also told me that it would be good to get rid of the trees. I feel like they just retaliated and did this out of spite.”
Calls to the management company, M&R Management, which oversees 10 residential buildings in the area, were not returned.
Chernova said she hopes residents living in the management company’s buildings will demand that company rebuild the tree guard, plant new flowers and reform the garbage disposal practices.