Flower sour: Local man drums up opposition to new trees, plants

Say no!: John DeAngelo has been circulating a petition in Dyker Heights encouraging neighborhoods to the city’s plan to install gardens throughout the neighborhood.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

He speaks against the trees!

A longtime Dyker Heights resident is going door-to-door drumming up opposition to a city scheme to plant flowers and trees throughout the neighborhood, and has already collected a whopping 135 signatures for his petition demanding the city back off its gardening scheme.

“It’s more work for the homeowners is how I see it,” said John DeAngelo “People are going to let their dogs go by and do whatever.”

The Department of Environmental Protection plans to install rain gardens on hundreds of sidewalks within an area roughly bounded by 11th Avenue, 61st Street, Bay Parkway, and 81st Street, which are made to absorb rainwater that would otherwise spill into the sewers and contaminate local waterways during storms, according to city planners.

The plan is to fill the gardens with cheery perennials, shrubbery, and trees, but the cynical Dyker Heights resident envisions pits overflowing with mud, garbage, and pests, saying the neighborhood would be better off with regular old slabs of concrete.

“With the amount of rain we get, all that the water’s going to do is turn the dirt to mud…I don’t think they’ll be effective at all.”

Reps for the Department of Environmental Protection rebutted DeAngelo’s arguments at a meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association earlier this month, saying the gardens are designed to drain in 48 hours or less — meaning water won’t be sitting long enough to attract mosquitoes — and claiming that city workers will clean the enclosures once a week. Residents can also opt for a concrete variant rather than a full garden, where rain falls through grates and onto a stone bed, soaking into the soil.

Shrinking sidewalks: DeAngelo points to a line demarking the edge of a future rain garden, which would leave only a few feet of space for passersby.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

But DeAngelo doesn’t want to see anything new on his block — plants, grates, or otherwise — and the local offered photos of poorly maintained gardens throughout the city as evidence the city will forget the new infrastructure as soon as it’s installed.

“You’ll clearly see that the water sits there, which brings mosquitoes” said DeAngelo, referencing photos of rain gardens throughout the city. “The water is still going to sit there underneath the grate.”

Many other residents have warmed up to the rain gardens, especially after city planners explained at a meeting of Community Board 10 that it wouldn’t install the enclosures in front of houses with handicapped residents, which would block them from their cars.

“There were some concerned residents, but by the end of the presentation they seemed more receptive to the proposal,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager at Community Board 10.

The agency says it will begin installing hundreds of the gardens throughout the area in 2022.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306. Follow her on Twitter @rose_n_adams
The environmental agency aims to install hundreds of rain gardens in Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst, beginning in 2022.
The Department of Environmental Protection

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