Arborcide at Flushing's only residential landmark

Protesters’ arbor grudge; Homeowner ripped for destroying trees


Wednesday, May 9th 2007, 4:00 AM

A man’s home is his castle, and so, too, are his trees – even if his home is landmarked.

About a dozen Flushing community leaders met in front of the city-landmarked Fitzgerald-Ginsberg Mansion last week to denounce the destruction of seven stately trees as old as, or older than, the 1920s-built Tudor-style mansion.

Last month, the Rev. Myung Ok Kim, the owner of the property on Bayside Ave. near 146th St., had seven trees cut down.

Included were two majestic ironwoods and “an evergreen worthy of Rockefeller Center at Christmas,” according to protester Chuck Wade, a member of the Holly Civic Association and president of the Voelker Orth Museum.

The trees were cut because they blocked sunlight, causing an accumulation of mildew on the slate roof and moist conditions that caused rotting of window sills and a cellar door, said Kim.

Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said, “These majestic trees were an asset to the community, whose understanding with the Landmarks Preservation Commission was that the trees could not be cut down in as cavalier a manner as they had been.”

According to a spokeswoman for the commission, trees and other vegetation at landmarked sites are not usually regulated.

“We don’t regulate the trees per se, but in the context of other changes to the property they could be regulated,” said spokeswoman Lisi de Bourbon.

As an example, if an owner planned to put in a new driveway, the commission might tell the owner to stay clear of certain trees, de Bourbon said.

Trees in two landmarked districts, Douglaston in Queens and Riverdale in the Bronx, are regulated, she noted.

Eugene Kelty, chairman of Community Board 7, said that the commission designated the entirety of the site purchased by Kim – not just the mansion.

“They designated the site. They did not say just the building. That means the driveways, the trees and everything else that goes with it and that is what we are contending,” said Kelty.

The protestors also contend that the owner illegally put up a 6-foot-tall red stockade fence along the property perimeter.

“We are going to send out a warning letter and also tell the owner that he must ask for permission as regards the stockade fence,” de Bourbon.

What the commission will do about the fence is uncertain, she said.

“The commission very well might say you got to take it down or you got to alter it,” said the spokeswoman.

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Posted Under: Flushing, Landscape, Queens

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