Friday, January 26, 2018
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings, and Recreation Management Patrick J. Sullivan, City Forester Edward Casey, and Assistant City Forester Alex Sherman welcomed from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) and the Greening the Gateways program to announce the awarding of $1.5 million dollars in funding to the City of Springfield to plant trees in the McKnight, Old Hill and Upper Hill neighborhoods. The funding will be released over a three-year period. The city was requested by the Commonwealth to identify 800 contiguous acres that would benefit from tree planting. The three neighborhoods chosen have one of the lowest tree canopies in the city, averaging a 13% tree canopy.
The Greening the Gateway Cities Tree Planting Program is designed to bring energy efficiency and environmental benefits of a healthy tree canopy to Gateway Cities – former industrial cities identified by the Baker administration for targeted redevelopment efforts. To date, over 8,000 trees have been planted throughout 13 Gateway Cities. Along with higher energy efficiency, Gateway Cities will see benefits such as:
•A reduction in storm water runoff
•Better air quality
•An increase in property values and tax receipts
•A safer, healthier environment for residents
•Increase the urban tree canopy 5-10% in select neighborhoods in each Gateway City in order to reduce heating and cooling costs and improve health and safety for residents
Within the guidelines of this program, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) contracts with municipalities as they (the municipalities) can plant trees quicker and more efficiently. This allows neighborhoods to reap the benefits of a healthy tree canopy. Lowering energy consumption by homes and businesses is a key objective in the Commonwealth’s plan to reduce greenhouse gasses by 25% before 2020.
Mayor Sarno stated, “The Commonwealth has been an excellent partner in our shared goal of protecting the environment by innovative endeavors to improve our infrastructure. I am grateful to Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for their continued support and for allocating the funds necessary to enhance the quality of life in our neighborhoods and assisting the city in protecting the overall health of our environment. The city has taken great strides to reduce its energy consumption by 24% and reducing air pollutants by 22,550,000 lbs annually. To put it in perspective, that is equal to planting 3,000 trees annually. Planting an additional 2,400 trees throughout these neighborhoods is a critical step in the process of reversing the mismanagement of our environment over the past 100 years. I congratulate Governor Baker in making our environment a priority in the continued success of the Commonwealth.”
Patrick Sullivan said, “We are very appreciative of the continued commitment to our city from the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Secretary Matthew Beaton. They, along with the DOER team, are always willing to assist Springfield and they have come through once again to address this critical component of Springfield’s infrastructure. I also commend the Mayor for his diligent efforts in providing resources that allow the city to maintain a 24% reduction in fuel usage. This is not an easy task but it is paying significant dividends in reducing greenhouses gases into our environment. I also want to thank Ed Casey and Alex Sherman for their continued stewardship of our urban forest. Our city trees play an important role in cooling city streets, reducing storm water run- off, and ultimately enhancing the quality of life for our neighborhoods. “
Ed Casey added, “The City’s Forestry Division is excited at the opportunity to expand the urban tree canopy on public and private land. We believe this is a great way for residents to improve their property by planting trees that are not only esthetically pleasing but also beneficial to the heating and cooling of their homes.”
Alex Sherman stated, “We look forward to working with the neighborhood councils in identifying the homeowners that would like to participate in the Greening the Gateways Program. It is our goal to start planting trees in homeowners’ yards the fall of 2018. This spring we will be planting 200 street trees throughout these three neighborhoods. Neighborhood meetings will commence in late March 2018.”