August 1, 2013
Mineola, NY - Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos released his review of the trees that were cut down following Superstorm Sandy on Searington Road, Shelter Rock Road, and the Welwyn Preserve. The review of hundreds of documents from the Department of Public Works (DPW) found all of the trees needed to come down for the safety of the residents that rely on those roads. The reasons why the trees had to be removed ranged from damage caused by Sandy, the snowstorm that followed, and trees that were diseased prior to Sandy.
“Following the devastation caused by Sandy the County’s top priority was the safety of our residents and the return to normalcy for Nassau,” Comptroller Maragos said. “Unfortunately, during this process hundreds of trees had to be removed and residents wanted to know why. My field audit team found that every tree removed was done for the safety of our residents. The Bradford Pear trees that lined those roads were no match for Superstorm Sandy and the snowstorm that followed.”
Throughout the County, over 10,000 trees were removed and an additional 21,000 trees had limbs removed. The Comptroller’s Office undertook a review beyond its normal audit of claims in order to address allegations that tree contractors engaged in excessive or indiscriminate tree removal in the Welwyn Preserve and along Searingtown and Shelter Rock Roads. The Comptroller’s Office auditors interviewed various personnel, reviewed tree removal records, examined DPW procedures, including the use of Independent Field Monitors and a GPS driven monitoring system called DebrisTech, and tree photos for this review. The auditors also performed a physical inspection by walking the entire length of Searingtown and Shelter Rock Roads as well as the Welwyn Preserves trail number 1, where the majority of the preserve trees were cut.
Along the entire six mile length of Searingtown and
Shelter Rock Roads, the auditors found 300 physical stumps
of trees that had been removed and an additional 43 records
of trees that were uprooted for a total tree removal
count of 343 trees. According to contractor tickets,
however, and certified by independent monitors, 323 trees
were removed and billed to the County. This leaves a
difference of 20 trees that were removed without any
records and without billings. The audit team found the
20 tree difference to be likely due to emergency maintenance
or performed prior to Sandy.
“Of the total 467 trees billed to the County (323 at Searingtown and Shelter Rock and 144 at Welwyn), 100% were approved by independent monitors and traced to submitted and paid claims by the County,” said Comptroller George Maragos. “In the Welwyn Preserve, auditors found no evidence of any indiscriminate cutting. In fact many of the tree cuts were observed diseased or insect ridden or blocking paths in this densely wooded area.”
In early Spring the County completed the planting of new trees along Searingtown and Shelter Rock Roads which are not as brittle as Bradford Pear trees and are better suited for the streetscape.
Nassau County Comptroller Maragos Online: