If the Gowanus Canal is ever going to be more than a river of human waste, the solution could be traced to 100 trees in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.
That’s where volunteers removed hunks of sidewalk this fall to widen tree beds this fall in hopes of saving plants and capturing rainwater that would otherwise overwhelm city sewers and pour excrement into the canal.
Tree pits were sometimes tripled in size, which is better for the foliage, the environment, and the neighborhood, according to Alex Gomez, managing director of the Bedford–Stuyvesant Restoration Project, which spearheaded the so-called “take back the pavement” effort along Washington Avenue.
The larger beds will give young trees more room to grow, which is an opportunity the old trees in the neighborhood didn’t have (kids today, right?).
And room to grow means more room for the trees’ human companions, as sidewalks will be less likely to buckle from roots pushing through. In the end, the blocks is greener and nicer looking, residents said.
“The sidewalks were a mess around the older trees,” said Clinton Hill resident Matt Kubicina. “But the ones that are fixed look great.”
Zubah Herrera, who treks the sidewalks regularly to visit his girlfriend, also thought the original tree beds were much too small.
“That’s why the sidewalks were messed up,” he said. “Now the trees have room to grow.”