Some New Yorkers are angry about plants on the sidewalk

While you may not know what a bioswale is, it’s likely you’ve seen one before. Think, the rain gardens or pits dug into the sidewalk that are scattered everywhere around the city. The purpose of them is to combat water pollution by preventing contaminated storm water from getting into waterways through our sewage system.

Who could have a problem with such a useful device?

Well, lots of New Yorkers apparently. The NYT reports that some people feel bioswales are unsightly and that garbage and pests take residence in them. In fact, Tony Avella, a city official representing Queens, has even held some anti-bioswale rallies and filed a petition to opt-out of the program.

“I understand the logic,” Avella said. “But that doesn’t mean that anytime you think you have a good idea, you have the right to roll over everybody and do it. This is a democracy, not a dictatorship.”

But naysayers be damned! Because of more frequent and bigger storms (thanks climate change!) the New York City Department of Environmental Protection wants to install even more of the pricey bioswales — each one costs $26,000 to build.

Eric A. Goldstein, the New York City Environment Director for the Natural Defense Council countered, “New Yorkers often object to changes in their neighborhoods. But rebelling against the city paying to green up local streets, is really something else.” [NYT]