Northampton sustains Tree City status

  • Ruthy Woodring, from left, Adaline Coates-Cooney and Jason Cooney plant a tree on South Street in Northampton on May 20, 2017, as part of a public shade tree initiative that has earned the city national status. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Published: 6/19/2017 2:36:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — For the tenth year running, the Arbor Day Foundation has honored the city of Northampton with “Tree City USA” status.

To be a tree city, a community needs to meet four core standards of urban forestry: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.

The designation has been awarded by the Arbor Day Foundation since 1976. Northampton stands with over 3,400 other tree cities across the nation that share a commitment to urban forestry. Neighboring Amherst has been a tree city for 30 years.

Northampton was also honored with the Tree City USA Growth Award, which is given to communities that have demonstrated a commitment to urban forestry through city resources and “innovative programs and projects,” according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

In the statement, Mayor David Narkewicz said, “The benefit provided by protecting our tree canopy is seen in many ways including energy cost savings, traffic calming, stormwater management, cleaner air, and climate change mitigation.”

Richard Parasiliti Jr., the city’s tree warden, added, “Both of these awards would not be possible without the continued support of the Mayor, the City Council, Public Shade Tree Commission, Tree Northampton, and the countless volunteers that have planted over 250 plus trees in the last several years.”

Northampton’s Public Shade Tree initiative was started in 2016 and maintains an online inventory of the city’s shade trees, as well as potential sites for new trees.  In May, volunteers planted 30 new shade trees along South Street. The citywide planting initiative costs $74,650 and is funded through a $30,000 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation with the remainder covered by the city. 

The South Street location was chosen after a 2016 public shade tree inventory conducted by the Kent, Ohio-based Davey Resource Group. The firm inspected the city’s existing 11,000 public shade trees and identified 2,000 sites for potential shade tree plantings.

“This community effort shows that we are committed to continuing to support a healthy, sustainable urban forestry program that will provide benefits for generation to come,” said Parasiliti.  

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