[Update below] Over the weekend, the city parks blog A Walk In the Park reported that nearly a dozen cherry trees were chopped down outside Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens. The Queens Borough President initially told NY1 the trees were cut down to make room for construction workers building a $21 million dollar project, which will create a glass atrium in the rear courtyard. But when asked about the trees again yesterday, BP Helen Marshall angrily dismissed the earlier explanation out of her office.

"No, no, no, not because of the construction," Marshall told NY1. "I wish they would get their story straight! Listen, no one will miss the trees as much as I am. We wait for them to come in. They're diseased! They're diseased!" The Parks Department referred us to Julianne Cho, a spokesperson for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), who told us, "While preparing for the Queens Borough Hall project, we found that the cherry trees were diseased and needed to be removed. They will be replaced with healthy trees."

We've repeatedly asked DCAS what disease the trees were afflicted with, and we'll update if/when we get an answer. Geoffrey Croft at NYC Park Advocates is also trying to get to the bottom of the arboricide, writing, "DCAS was asked to provide tree inspection reports to back-up its claims that the trees were in fact 'diseased.' Those reports have not yet been made available." Croft also finds it suspicious that a tree removal permit was not posted at the construction site on Sunday.

Marshall's spokesman did not respond to our request for comment.

Update 12:30 p.m.: Cho tells us, "Both fungal and bacterial growth was detected on the trees."

Update 5:19 p.m.: Marshall's spokesman just got back to us with this: "We were told by the City Department of Administrative Services that trees were diseased and close together. This lowered our major concerns about cutting the trees down as part of the plan to provide quick and safe access for crane and other heavy equipment to get to the actual construction site. A tree replacement plan is part of the overall plan. There will be a new grove of trees and bushes after one-year construction project is completed. DCAS, at Borough President Marshall’s request, is now asking an arborist to look at every single tree in rear of Queens Borough Hall and give each one a checkup to determine its health."