Salem tree board honored for 30 years of shade

The handiwork of the Salem Shade Tree Commission the past 30 years can be seen readily along State Street this week, as flowering trees display their spring splendor.

“Trees are needed for beauty, for oxygen…they help the general feeling of well-being of residents and visitors,” Salem Shade Tree Commission Chairman Dave Navoyosky said.

The commission celebrated Salem’s Arbor Day and designation as a Tree City USA for three decades on Tuesday by gathering around a Japanese Tree Lilac planted on a curb lawn at 140 W. Fifth St. at the request of the resident.

The Davey Tree & Lawn Care Co. planted the tree on behalf of the commission and will plant a Red Oak tree at another address at a cost of $774 as part of a project funded by the Salem Community Foundation. In January, the SCF granted $10,000 to the commission for its tree planting program.

The commission also honored the Salem Hunting Club and its donation of $475, administered through the SCF, by having Navoyosky present Tree City USA lapel pins to members Jay Klein, who’s in charge of public relations, and Al Myers, club treasurer.

Mayor John Berlin presented the commission

with a proclamation celebrating it’s big anniversary as a Tree City USA and its continued service to the citizens of Salem, an effort which began in 1983 organized by Mary Ellen Pizzino, according to Navoyosky.

“Time has flown,” he said.

When the Salem Shade Tree Commission started, a lot of groups pitched in with money and help, with the SCF recognized as one of the biggest contributors since the beginning. He also talked about the dedication of the late Ethel Parker, another longtime member and former chairwoman of the commission.

“I really appreciate the present members because of their positive attitude of wanting to make Salem a nicer and better, more beautiful place,” he said.

Navoyosky has been involved the past 22 years and said he first joined after his family narrowly missed getting hit by a big sycamore tree that fell after their car had just crossed the point of impact. He was interested in the maintenance of trees. The commission handed off the maintenance part to the city service department several years ago and now just plants trees and approves requests for trees in the curb lawn.

He estimated the commission is responsible for more than 500 trees planted since the group started, noting that one year they planted 150 trees in the city parks. He said they’ve been averaging 20 trees per year for 10 years, but they’re starting to run out of room. They’ve caught up with the pace of removal of trees, but have trees to plant if residents want them on their curb lawn.

According to a press release on the process, any Salem city resident who wants a free tree planted along the street in front of their house should call the mayor’s office at 330-332-4241 and provide their name, address, phone number and the number of trees that will fit.

The commission chooses the species of tree based on the street where the house is located, taking into consideration underground utilities and overhead electric wires, proximity to driveways, cross streets, telephone poles and other trees. The idea is to plant the trees in the right places, with instructions on care sent to each recipient.

The commission is partly funded by city council and by donations, using funds to purchase and plant trees and purchase supplies and equipment.

Residents can choose to plant curb lawn trees on their own and pay the cost, but must contact the commission first for permission. The press release said the commission determines what species and size of tree can be planted and determines the exact location for planting.

In order to achieve Tree City USA recognition, a community must have a tree board or department, a tree-care ordinance, an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Besides Navoyosky, other members of the commission include vice chairman William Wright, Linda Steffen, Brenda Kish, and Karen Carter.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at