Bold street tree program eyed

Sep 6, 2019 by

Published in the September 6, 2019 edition.

WAKEFIELD — Weather permitting, the Town Council Monday night plans to meet outside. Fittingly, members are scheduled to discuss a bold public works initiative to plant more shade trees along Wakefield streets.

Included in a detailed packet of information about next week’s meeting posted on the town’s website is an overview of The CommuniTREE Program.

The initiative, if approved, would allow residents, visitors, local organizations and businesses to donate a tree “to supplement the ongoing work of Wakefield’s Forestry Division. While donors will have a selection of tree species from which to indicate a preference and can request a neighborhood in which the tree is planted, the Forestry Division will ultimately determine the viability of the requests based on surrounding plantings, placement of utilities, and sidewalk and green space limitations.”

According to the program overview, a $300 donation sponsors the planting of one tree. Smaller contributions would be pooled to support planting “in an area or need.”

“Over the last several years,” CommuniTREE initiators write, “Wakefield has faced a tree deficit; more street trees had to be removed than were planted. The CommuniTREE program…aims to reverse the trend.

“While many trees throughout Wakefield have simply reached the end of their natural life cycles, (sub)urban stress and storms have also impacted the health of our forestry. Acid rain, winter road treatments, invasive moths, disease and storm damages have all contributed to the need for tree removal. These environmental impacts — coupled with the limited lifespan of ‘(sub)urban’ trees (many plantings that date back to the 1970s) — have led to the current need to reverse this deficit for our Town’s forestry. The goal of this program is to level the removal-to-planting ratio in the next two years and pursue an annual surplus in the years that follow. This will also help to ensure our Town’s environmental resiliency into the future.”

Among the program highlights:

• The DPW will secure and maintain the donated plantings, like it does with all other street trees.

• Plantings are expected to begin this fall, prior to ground freezing, and will resume in the spring of 2020.

• Donors will be contacted to discuss their requested tree species and proposed location prior to planting.

The Town Council will meet Monday night on the Lower Common at 6:30. If the weather is bad, the meeting will be held, as usual, in the studio at WCAT at the back of Wakefield Memorial High at 7.

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