Community Foundation honored for tree efforts

The Salem Shade Tree Commission celebrated Arbor Day on Wednesday by recognizing two people from a group considered an integral part of the commission’s tree planting mission.

Salem Community Foundation grants coordinator Melissa Moffett Costa and SCF President John Tonti received Tree City USA lapel pins from Shade Tree Commission Chairman Dave Navoyosky, who praised both of them for their contributions to the program.

The pinning ceremony took place at Waterworth Memorial Park shortly after the commission received a proclamation from Salem Mayor John Berlin, declaring Wednesday as Arbor Day in Salem. The group also displayed the latest Tree City USA flag next to a newly planted Red Maple tree, courtesy of the commission and SCF.

Navoyosky praised Costa and Tonti for what he described as “their enthusiasm in promoting tree planting in Salem.”

“They are our contact people when we need help to fund a tree planting project.

They are both hands-on people, because they attend every planting celebration we have. They both help us to perpetuate our program through the advertising we get from the photo opportunities,” he said in a press release.

The Salem Community Foundation granted $10,000 to the Shade Tree Commission in January for this year’s tree planting program, which includes 30 trees to be planted by the end of this month. A variety of 29 trees will be planted at Waterworth Memorial Park and Centennial Park, including eight Tulip Poplar, five Sugar Maple, five Norway Spruce, four Dwarf Pink Crabapple, two Red Maple (autumn blaze) and five white Flowering Dogwood.

The program also includes a Dwarf Crabapple (sugar tyme variety) planted on the curb lawn on East Third Street at the request of a property owner as part of the continuous Free Tree Program. The trees were being planted by The Davey Tree & Lawn Care Co.

The Salem Community Foundation gave the Shade Tree Commission $5,000 when the commission first came into being in 1983. The foundation has proven itself a valuable partner in the quest to plant trees, granting $311,000 over the past 31 years to the commission. Tonti has been on the SCF board since 1981 and has been the president since 1992. He’s a retired CPA who was a partner with Hill, Barth & King. Costa has been grants coordinator the past 10 years and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Troy State University in Alabama.

According to the press release, the “award-winning” commission has been planting trees since 1984 and has held the designation as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation since its inception. The mayor’s proclamation talked about the value of trees to the environment and the community and said Salem “desires to continue its tree-planting ways.”

Navoyosky noted that any Salem resident who wants free trees planted along the street in front of their house should call the mayor’s office at 330-332-4241. Residents should give their name, address, phone number, and the number of trees they think will fit, keeping in mind that the commission chooses the type of tree based on the street.

The commission also looks at any underground utilities and overhead electric wires when evaluating a planting site, the proximity of driveways, cross streets, telephone poles and other trees.

“The object is to plant the right trees in the right places. Instructions on how to care for the new trees are mailed to each recipient,” the press release said.

Residents who choose to plant curb lawn trees on their own at their own expense must first contact the Shade Tree Commission for permission. The commission then looks at the type and size of tree that can be planted based on a Master Plan compiled in 1990. Navoyosky wrote that trees in the Master Plan “were chosen for hardiness, salt tolerance, disease resistance, good structural integrity, shape, size at maturity, and aesthetics. Aesthetics has to do with the leaf color in different seasons, flower color, fruit size and color, overall shape, and even the size of the seeds.”

They also pay attention to the existing population of trees, trying to keep the numbers at no more than 10 percent of the population from one species and no more than 15 percent from one genus. The total curb lawn tree population has increased from 2,970 to over 3,600 from 1981 to 2002, when two surveys were done, the release said.