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De-Forest City Ratner! Barclays builder wants to chop down 20 trees on Pacific Street • Brooklyn Paper

De-Forest City Ratner! Barclays builder wants to chop down 20 trees on Pacific Street

Speaks for the trees: Pacific Street residents (from left) Christine Schmidt and Leslie Dann say Forest City Ratner should change its name if it’s going to cut down 20 trees on their block.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Forest City Ratner isn’t living up to its name on Pacific Street.

The mega-builder that brought Brooklyn the Barclays Center is scheduled to chop down 20 young trees on the thoroughfare this week, increasing its impressive arboreal headcount while neighbors make a last ditch plea to authorities to halt the slaughter.

The developer says the trees — which were planted about a decade ago between Carlton and Sixth avenues thanks to a grassroots community beautification effort — must fall to make room for construction, adding to the 30 woods it previously cleared from the Barclays Center footprint.

Forest City Ratner has permission to chop down 86 trees in total, so long as it replants 116 and pays the city $159,000 — but it is unclear exactly when and where the mandated replacement trees will rise.

And that’s a clear shot across the bough, tree huggers claim.

“It’s disappointing and heartbreaking to not be told when they’re going to be put back,” said Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, which sent a letter urging the Parks Department to halt the arborcide this week. “We want to see them re-tasked somewhere in the neighborhood at a reasonable date in the future.”

The Parks Department offered no concrete details about the placement or timeline for the new trees.

“Once construction is complete … [the] trees will be planted in the community, in the public right-of-way,” a spokeswoman said.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the new trees will rise from same sidewalks: a recent Parks Department e-mail obtained by this paper indicates the developer can plant the replacement trees on surrounding blocks if there’s no room for them on the Atlantic Yards footprint.

The lack of clear-cut plans leaves neighbors especially wary, considering that even Forest City Ratner’s replacement trees haven’t been safe from the ax man.

The arena builder says it already replanted 17 arbors to make up for chopped trees on Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, but was forced to uproot five of them — three in front of the stadium’s VIP entrance, and two from in front of the Nets gear shop — to “address and improve pedestrian traffic flow issues” at the behest of the Department of Transportation and the NYPD.

To keep that from happening again, a Forest City Ratner spokeswoman said neighbors must be patient.

“We do not believe it would be prudent to replant trees that will have to be removed when the future buildings and platforms are in construction,” said spokeswoman Ashley Cotton. “[But] we hope to put them back in the same place.”

Resident say they fear it could be decades before they see a patch of green again on their block.

“They could avoid planting another tree for 25 years,” said Christine Schmidt, a resident of the affected block between Carlton and Sixth avenues.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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