Board of Representative member Nina Sherwood said that she and a fellow board member, Ines Saftic, were thinking about “what can we do as a city to protect trees? What can we do legally to protect and maintain trees in our city?”
They began talking with city officials about what the tree-related initiatives, programs, and needs were.
“What became apparent… we could be doing a lot more to fund tree replacement and tree health in the city,” Sherwood told the Operations Committee in October.
The representatives drafted a resolution, approved by the full Board of Representatives in November, which called on the mayor to allocate funds in the upcoming year’s budget to fund four main tree-related items: a citywide tree inventory, a water tank truck, new trees to plant and a parks maintenance person to help the city “better manage and care for this valuable resource and asset.”
Sherwood said that currently, “we definitely don’t have the manpower or specific resources to maintain the life and longevity of the trees we’re spending taxpayer dollars on to plant.” The four items came out of conversations with Erin McKenna, senior parks planner; Ron Markey, Stamford’s Tree Warden; and other city employees.
Sherwood called this a “proactive step in letting the administration know that this board would like to invest more money in trees.”
A tree inventory, which McKenna said that she has been requesting for about 10 years, would give the city “an incredibly useful tool” to manage its existing trees and proactively address any issues with them, such as a tree in danger of falling down, before it causes larger issues. The inventory would include all trees along the city’s roads and sidewalks—those in the public right-of-way—and city parks.
To complete the inventory, an arborist would go to every tree and note its location, species, size, and other information, such as if it’s near power lines, as well as take photos of it. It would also summarize some of the ecological benefits of trees, such as how much stormwater runoff is captured by the tree. McKenna noted that a study had already been done for the downtown area, through the Stamford Downtown Special Services District, so the city has an example of what this could look like.
The inventory would help the city “proactively manage,” its tree canopy, McKenna said.
The city has been taking some steps to add to its tree canopy. Land Use Bureau Chief Ralph Blessing said that there is now a “tree planting requirement for street trees for all new developments,” in the city.
But Sherwood also emphasized that the resolution wasn’t just about helping to add to the tree canopy. It also aimed to take better care of what trees currently existed in the city.
“We spend $600 to $700 per tree to plant, and we don’t have a watering truck to water them,” she said.
Mayor Caroline Simmons will be presenting her budget in the coming weeks, which is when representatives will see if their requests were heard.