GHNIC members, children from area schools and community volunteers will plant four silver-red maple trees selected for their fast growth, salt resistance, summer shade and ability to absorb rainwater before it hits the ground.
The trees were due to be planted on April 27, Arbor Day, in a kickoff event launching the urban forestry committee, but site work to dig up a small section of the asphalt parking lot surrounding the pavilion for the trees could not be completed due to weather. The volunteer group planted three flowering pear trees in the surrounding planter boxes instead.
With the groundwork in the parking lot now complete by the Department of Public Works the committee will plant the maple trees today.
GHNIC Executive Director Gregory Young said Thursday that the first tree planting event was successful and only took about 15 minutes thanks to the 12 volunteers who lent a hand combined with the prep work done by the DPW clearing stumps from the planter boxes.
Young said it will probably take about 30 minutes to plant the four maple trees today that are larger than the pear trees.
In addition to providing shade to the asphalt parking lot, Young said the trees will better define the area of the farmers market while separating it from the surrounding parking area.
“Planting them downtown will allow community members to see how quickly they grow and how they help beautify the area,” Young added.
The trees would also benefit the Rail Trail if proposals to connect the bike path with the Farmers Market Pavilion move forward providing shade, greenery and a natural wind screen.
The GHNIC received a $1,000 grant from the New York State Urban Forestry Council to purchase the trees and to create a volunteer urban forestry committee in the city.
The committee of community volunteers will be tasked with increasing the number of street trees throughout the city to improve the overall appearance of the city while aiding the aging storm sewer infrastructure by absorbing falling rainwater.
The committee will collaborate with city departments and community groups to determine where street trees could be most beneficial, using in-kind labor for a subsidized street tree planting program.
The group will also work to educate city residents about the benefits of street trees to encourage homeowners to adopt suitable trees of their own. The committee will draw on the GHNIC for financial and administrative resources. The GHNIC is a not-for-profit organization with a mission of creating thriving neighborhoods in the city.
Young said the urban forestry committee currently has seven members and is still recruiting. The committee will meet next on Monday at 5 p.m. at 25 W. Fulton St. to discuss the two tree planting events at the pavilion and begin planning future events.
The committee’s next initiative will be to apply for the next round of Urban and Community Forestry Grants available from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Young said the grants would be used to fund a tree inventory and community forestry management plan for the city.
A tree inventory will collect the age, species, health and geographic distribution of the trees on streets across the city and in parks.
Data collected in the inventory will be used to conduct an analysis of the environmental benefits quantifying items such as carbon sequestration, storm water capture, energy savings, particulate matter capture and property value impact. This will also generate information for individual tree care.
The committee will then draft a community forestry management plan to create a long-term vision and strategy that will also consider the impact to storm preparedness and water quality.
To volunteer for the tree planting event at the Farmers Market Pavilion today at 4 p.m. or to join the urban forestry committee, contact GHNIC Executive Director Gregory Young at (518) 620-6276.