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More trees: Key to town’s ‘green’ theme

Greenfield,  tree panel want  to replace some, while adding others

In this file photo, Ben McDonough of Turners Falls and Reid Barton of Millers Falls stake and mulch  one of over thirty trees Stewarts Nursery planted on Main Street in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

In this file photo, Ben McDonough of Turners Falls and Reid Barton of Millers Falls stake and mulch one of over thirty trees Stewarts Nursery planted on Main Street in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — The town and its tree committee are looking at ways they can replace trees that have died along Main and Federal streets, while adding others throughout town, to keep with Greenfield’s “green” theme.

The problem, Nancy Hazard, a member of the Greenfield Tree Committee, said, is time and money.

Hazard said many trees that have been planted over the past several years have already died because they weren’t watered and cared for like they should have been, because salt built up around their roots or they were damaged during snowstorms, and, in a few cases, because of disease.

“Street trees have to deal with a lot of stress,” said Hazard. “There’s not a lot of water there naturally, there are buried utilities on some streets, including Main, there’s a lot of snow and salt build up around them in the winter, plows damage their bark, and there was a time when they just weren’t getting enough water, especially right after being planted — trees need to be watered after being planted.”

Hazard said she and the other members of the Greenfield Tree Committee, along with the town, plan to improve the care Greenfield trees receive.

“We’ve been planting 12 to 20 trees a year for the past couple of years and plan to continue doing so,” said Hazard. “We are working with the town to make sure we aren’t just planting trees, but maintaining them afterward.”

Hazard said different types of trees are being planted.

“When you plant just one kind, a disease can come in and wipe them all out, like it did years ago,” she said. “It is a constant battle to keep them alive.”

Hazard said unfortunately the town has just so much money and time to invest in caring for all of the trees — there are more than 250 in the downtown area alone.

“The committee does what it can do and maybe we’ll need to turn to volunteers,” she said.

Janine Greaves, who collects money for the town’s “tree fund,”said the town also budgets $8,700 for trees and tree care each year. She said the town bought a tank truck more than a year ago, which it fills with water to water the trees.

“There was a time when we didn’t have a lot of resources,” said Greaves. “Now, we have a crew that waters them regularly each summer and we are taking care of them.”

Hazard said it costs about $300 to plant one tree.

“The town used a grant several years ago to plant some trees on Main Street,” said Hazard. “There aren’t a lot of grants left out there for that.”

She said the town receives donations each year from individuals and businesses, and two local funeral homes, Kostanski and Walker, each provide the town with money from their memorial tree funds each year.

Hazard said the committee holds fundraisers each year. It recently held a Soup and Game Night fundraiser at Hope and Olive restaurant and raised $2,000.

“Our goal has been to raise about $4,000 each year to cover planting and maintenance,” said Hazard.

She said the committee has been planting “mid-size” trees throughout the downtown.

“There isn’t room for huge trees along Main Street and the smaller ones are more vulnerable to damage and vandalism,” she said.

She said the town’s Public Works Department hires a company to plant the trees each year. That way, she said, if something goes wrong with the planting, the company replaces a tree or trees at no cost.

Hazard said Public Works hired a person last year who has tree pruning skills, so that person will be taking better care of the town’s trees.

She said one idea the committee and town has is to plant trees one year and pay for the maintenance the next year, so that the cost is kept down and the trees are taken care of the right way.

On Monday, town officials, the committee and some residents met with Paul Cawood Hellmund, director of the Conway School Graduate Program in Sustainable Landscape Planning and Design to talk about Greenfield revitalization and beautification and strategies for ecological resilience.

Part of that discussion centered around trees, said Hazard.

She said besides planting more trees and providing maintenance, the committee and public works will be educating the public on the value of street trees and the need for care and maintenance.

For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation, call Janine Greaves at 413-772-1528, ext. 106 or send a check to: Town of Greenfield Tree Committee, Department of Public Works, 14 Court Square, Greenfield, MA 01301.

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