There is a battle to reopen New York City parks nearly a month after Hurricane Sandy hit. NBC 4 New York's Pei-Sze Cheng reports. (Published Friday, Nov 23, 2012)
Three weeks after Sandy ravaged the five boroughs, the New York City Parks Department continues their cleanup of parks and playgrounds closed after the storm.
The Parks Department says 88 percent of parks have reopened and that they have made a lot of progress, but there are some parks citywide that are still closed.
"I think we should rename it disaster park," said 9-year-old Gabriel Lev as he stood with his mother outside Andrews Grove playground in Long Island City.
Sandy brought down at least seven large trees at the park on 48th Avenue. Pictures taken after the storm show the playground completely covered by thick trunks and large branches. The playground and fencing around the park were damaged.
"Trees down everywhere, it's sad we miss the park, it's a huge loss for the neighborhood," said Chris Thompson.
The parks department says they are trying very hard and crews are working long hours but the damage across the city is widespread. A spokesman said they received 26 thousand tree service related requests citywide, and 15,000 of them were for trees that fell along streets.
Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the city can do better.
"You have less than a hundred trimmers and pruners for the entire city of 2 million trees," said Croft "That is far, far, far too few."
Croft is critical of the budget cuts and downsizing of the parks department.
:iam Kavanagh, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Parks & Recreation, said "The massive clean-up effort includes, but is not limited to, NYC Parks’ full-time climbers and pruners."
Kavanagh added, "In addition to nearly a hundred dedicated climbers and pruners, our full-time staff includes trained foresters as well as park managers and workers with tree care experience."
The department also brought in over a hundred emergency crews to help with the clean up.