Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, the Springfield Board of Park Commissioners, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings, and Recreation Management (PBRM) Patrick Sullivan, City Forester Alex Sherman, and Chief of Staff Tom Ashe, along with retired City Forester Ed Casey and family, joined city officials and government partners to announce the opening of the Springfield Forestry Operations Center with a special dedication ceremony in honor of Edward P. Casey, longtime and retired City Forester.
The $4.6 million Operations Center was funded through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) grant program with matching funds from the City of Springfield. This project sustains the progressive management changes in the Forestry Division initiated by the Sarno administration.
In 2010, Mayor Sarno made an executive decision to rescind the former state imposed Financial Control Board’s directive to have the Springfield’s Forestry Operations outsourced. In rebuilding the municipal Forestry operations, the city implemented a comprehensive approach in the day-to-day management of its Urban Forest. This has been augmented by Executive Director Patrick Sullivan and City Forester Alex Sherman’s commendable management of this division.
This MVP grant enabled the construction of a Forestry Operations Center in order to better serve the residents of Springfield not only during daily routine operations but also during key storm events. We have seen first-hand the devasting storms in Springfield starting with the 2011 EF-3 tornado and the October freak nor’easter snow storm, as well as yearly microburst storm events. The center will ensure our Forestry Division is equipped to respond immediately to residents’ concerns during storm events and will also serve to improve the delivery of services on a daily basis. The Forestry Division is crucial in having power outages rectified after storm events, which is imperative for those residents who depend on electricity to power medical devices and other life-stabilizing items.
Mayor Sarno said, “First, I want to thank Governor Maura Healey, Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll, and EOEEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper for their continued belief and investment in our Commonwealth’s parks, trees and Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. Patrick Sullivan and I are excited to highlight and showcase the grand opening of our new Forestry Building in Forest Park. This event will be special as we dedicate this facility to Ed Casey, longtime City Forester who had a distinguished 40-year career with the city caring for our trees so that future generations can grow up to enjoy their shade and beauty. Special thanks to our current City Forester Alex Sherman who continues on the great work Ed did for our trees throughout the city. My administration is committed to investing into our Climate Action and Resiliency Plan and the creation of this new dedicated Forestry Building will further enhance our Forestry operations throughout the city.”
“We are proud of the accomplishments of our Forestry Division. This partnership with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts EOEEA has greatly enhanced the quality of life and public safety aspects throughout the city. In addition to the $4.6 million the city has received over the past five years, an investment of over $1.5 million in a Greening the Gateways Tree Planting Program has resulted over new 2,000 trees planted throughout the city. The goal of this program is to decrease energy use through the strategic planting of trees that provide shade in the summer and windbreaks during the winter months,” said Mayor Sarno. “The Forestry Division was also successful with an additional grant from the Municipal Vulnerability Action (MVP) Grant Program. This 2019 grant was for $315,000 to reduce the City’s vulnerability to climate change through forestry initiatives. The grant allowed for the expansion of the current nursery, construction of a propagation green house, and completion of a comprehensive inventory of the city’s urban forest. This project is a great example of local and state governments collaborating to address climate change and improve the well-being of Springfield’s residents. We are thankful for the continued support of our Commonwealth partners.”
Congressman Richard E. Neal stated, “The City of Springfield has always prioritized the preservation of its green spaces, and I am proud to have been Mayor of Springfield when the city was designated as a “Tree City USA” by the National Arbor Day Foundation. We have been fortunate enough to have superb leadership at the Parks Department and Forestry Division, including with Ed Casey, who understood the importance of sustaining and maintaining our city’s trees and the benefits they bring to an urban environment.”
Congressman Neal continued, “I would like to thank Mayor Sarno for his leadership in continuing this tradition, as well as Parks Director Patrick Sullivan and City Forester Alex Sherman for their dedication to their vital work. I would also like to thank Governor Healey and her administration for recognizing the importance of preserving green spaces across the Commonwealth. The Springfield Forestry Operations Center will greatly enhance the Division’s daily operations, and a fitting tribute to a faithful public servant in Ed Casey who dedicated his life’s work to improving the lives of Springfield residents and future generations.”
The Forestry Operations Center will help achieve key goals set in Springfield’s 2017 Climate Action & Resiliency Plan. The state-of-the-art facility includes many innovations aimed to reduce its impact on the environment, including rooftop solar power, a 5,000-gallon underground rain water cistern, and modern heating and cooling systems. Rooftop solar panels will provide the majority of electricity needs for the building and rain water collected from the roof will be used to water trees growing in the adjacent municipal tree nursery as well as street trees across the city.
City Forester Alex Sherman stated, “The opening of this building will add to the Springfield Forestry campus that we have developed here at Forest Park and allow the Forestry Division to efficiently provide critical Forestry services to the residents of Springfield.”
The Springfield Park Commission voted to name the building in honor of retired City Forester Edward P. Casey after receiving a petition of over one hundred signatures from city residents.
Park Commission Chair Jennifer McQuade said, “The Springfield Park Commission is proud to dedicate this building to Mr. Casey, who provided many years of exemplary service to the Springfield Parks Forestry Division.”
Executive Director Sullivan stated, “I can’t think of a more deserving person of this honor than Ed Casey. He faithfully worked for the residents of Springfield for over 40 years, serving as City Forester for 26 of those years. The City of Springfield is a greener and healthier place to live thanks to Ed’s devotion and passion for arboriculture.”