Poisonous, Invasive Weeds Where RIOC Hacked Inkberry Trees


As we reported two years ago, RIOC’s hacking of the inkberry tree row shading the East Promenade was a mistake. But the sheer brutality and neglectfulness turned out much worse than we feared. Easy to say, “RIOC did it again,” but hard understanding why.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

The Inkberry Chopping As It Happened in 2020

After an appalled resident saw a landscaping crew butchering the inkberry tree row the community appreciated for its shade on summer days, I showed a video to RIOC’s then-Acting President Shelton J. Haynes.

RIOC’s crew was not only doing an unbelievably bad job out of season, they were rude about it when confronted.

Haynes shook his head, explaining that – as RIOC’s new leader – he didn’t want that behavior. Two years down the road, it’s no longer a surprise when nothing gets done, and nothing did.

The inkberry trees before the hacking.
And after.

Inkberry trees are native to the Northeast. They grow in the wild from Maine to Virginia, and they’re common in New York City parks.

Here’s what the area looks like now, neglected by RIOC, struggling inkberry trees overwhelmed by poisonous, invasive species.

They’re not hard to grow. If you can grow a tomato plant, you can grow an inkberry. They come back from the roots every year, and they don’t get very big. So what happened?

The Asian Knotweed is an invasive pest plant but welcomed with open arms here. Ironically, RIOC blamed invasive species as a reason for destroying Southpoint Park’s natural vegetation. But it’s okay here.

The short answer is that RIOC allowed poisonous, invasive weeds to overwhelm them. The long answer is more complicated, but it’s worth telling. RIOC’s retreat into negligence under Haynes is visible and far-reaching.

We’ve been there, but these photos tell a story. We can only hope that the bosses in Albany are paying attention. Haynes is too detached and weak in character to lead change, especially change reversing the messes on his watch, but we elected others to act in our interests.

American Pokeweed, a poisonous perennial.
American Pokeweed, a poisonous perennial obliterates any signs of the inkberry trees they said they were simply pruning to aid future growth. Then, they left them to rot.

The time is now.

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