By JASON SUBIK
The Gloversville Common Council has unanimously approved a $25,000 bid from Ironwood Industries, of Smithtown, for planting about 50 trees, about half of them set to go into Melchoir Park.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said Director of Public Works Chris Perry has about $10,000 left in his annual budget for “park improvements,” which will pay for part of the tree planting contract. He said the city will front the total cost of the replanting, but hopes to raise $15,000 in a fund of private donations to pay for more than half of it.
“This company was the only bidder that was able to give us the services that we need for this,” DeSantis said.
The city has posted a tree donation form on its Facebook page, and the form can be downloaded on the city’s website at cityofgloversville.com/tree-donation-letter-and-form.
DeSantis explained where the trees will be planted.
“This isn’t just for Melchoir Park, probably half of them will go there, but many will go to other public places as well, and a few will go into Meyers Park,” he said.
For its 2021 budget, the city committed to its first-ever dangerous tree removal program, which included a number of declining white pines obscuring the view at Melchoir Park.
At the July 13 Common Council meeting, Department of Public Works Director Chris Perry described the tree removal work.
“We removed 34 hazardous trees, all of the stumps are now ground out and we removed about 11 other stumps scattered throughout the park that had been there for some time,” Perry told the council.
Hazardous trees have also been removed in Myers Park and a few other locations in the city.
Now Ironwood Industries will plant 50 trees accounting for 23 different tree species, each about “2-calipers” in size. Each tree will cost about $500.
Perry, the city’s first DPW director to include “arborist” in his title, in 2020 explained the need to plant different tree species to enhance the city’s urban canopy. He said in the past a limited number of tree species were planted throughout the city and that has caused problems.
“The most predominant are silver maple and Norway maple, they probably comprise 60 percent of our tree canopy on terraces and city parks,” he said. “There was a lot of monoculture, because they didn’t know any better, back then, or even recently. So, that’s our biggest downfall, the lack of diversity in tree species, and the condition of our mature trees.”
The city’s investment in trees is aimed at beginning the work of transforming Gloversville from its 1890s nickname of “Stump City” into a Tree City U.S.A., a designation granted by the Arbor Day Foundation and the U.S. Forestry Service to communities that invest at least $2 per resident of the city annually in a tree program.
Currently there are about 3,400 communities meeting the Tree City U.S.A designation, including Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Cobleskill and Ithaca.
“Qualifying for Tree City U.S.A. status opens up the possibility for us to apply for grant money, so in future years we’ll be applying for grants for tree planting,” DeSantis said.