What do you do if you can’t plant a tree? If you’re Alicia Barksdale, president of the 3333 Broadway Tenants’ Association, you get some planters.
There are no trees on 135th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, leaving the block austere and bleak. When she approached Million Trees NYC, an organization that plants new trees across the city, she learned that a complex system of pipes and cables underground makes growing plants nearly impossible on her block.
She wants to install 35 planters, with at least 15 on each side of the street, which she hopes will revive both the streetscape and residents’ morale.
“Not only would it make our street look better, more beautiful, but it’s all about getting the community involved in something,” Barksdale said. “They would help with the planting and everything. I really believe that people would take care of the block much more if they literally planted something or made something.”
Jasmin Marinara, a 3333 resident, said she is confident the neighbors would take care of the plants if needed.
“Years back, the area by Riverside was not developed. We all got together and planted tulips,” Marinara said, adding that the flowers are still there. “It would make the neighborhood much nicer, keeping the space clean.”
Barksdale began fundraising for the project last Monday by launching a website and reaching out to local officials for their support. The website is run through ioby.com, which supports sustainable fundraising projects in the city by matching every dollar raised.
The current budget for the 135th Street Beautification Project is $3,240, including the cost of equipment and the planters themselves. According to the project’s page, the 3333 Broadway Tenants’ Association has raised $40 so far.
The planters will likely be self-watering, with a holding tank inside to catch rainwater.
“We want to get the self-watering ones so that it would be less of a hassle for the community,” Barksdale said. “It all depends, though, because they’re more expensive.”
Once enough money has been raised, the project will seek approval from Community Board 9 and then begin planting. Barksdale is hopeful that the trees will be in place by the fall.
But not all residents see the trees and planters as a good investment, given the economic climate.
“I don’t think trees are a priority. Our view is great, we have the river, so we don’t need trees,” resident Helena Darwin said. “If any money at all is going to anything in this building, it should be to the elevators.”
According to Darwin, one of the two elevators in 3333 Broadway has been broken for weeks, forcing residents to wait or walk.
Other residents, like Martha Lara, said they are excited to hear that there may soon be trees in the neighborhood.
“Having trees will lighten up the area,” Lara said. “If other neighborhoods get trees, why not us?”
Karla Jimenez contributed reporting.