ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Hoda Britel is framed by one of the two new trees.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
LYNN — Arbor Day tree planting at Connery Elementary School kicked off Lynn’s participation in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program.
The program is administered by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The program targets the state’s gateway cities, including Lynn, or more specifically a section of the downtown and West Lynn, by providing free trees to residents and other partners.
Two dogwood trees were planted during the Arbor Day celebration at Connery School on Thursday, helped along by eager students. The school is within the area benefited by the program.
Fifth grader Ariana Camilo said she was looking forward to the trees growing nice and strong.
“I like it because it helps me breathe,” Camilo said.
Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy joined in the tree planting.
“What this means to me is it’s a great chance to show these kids the importance that trees play in our lives, in all of our lives,” Kennedy said. “It gives them a chance to really care for and nurture a growing, living thing, and it gives them pride to be able to look back in many years from now and say: I helped to make that tree the beautiful thing that it has become.”
School deputy superintendent Patrick Tutwiler said the excitement the planting generated underscores how hands-on environmental studies is every bit as important as reading, writing and arithmetic.
“Arbor Day is about 140 year tradition,” Tutwiler said. “They’re taking part in history.”
The grant Lynn received through the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the program totals $1.5 million over three years, according to Andrew Hall, city Department of Public Works commissioner. During that time frame, he said 2,400 trees will be planted during fall and spring.
“The whole point of this is to increase tree canopy in areas where there is a marked lack of tree canopy,” said Hall.
The environmental and energy-efficiency initiative is designed to reduce household energy by planting trees ranging from six to 10-feet tall with the goal of adding 5 to 10 percent of tree canopy cover in targeted neighborhoods. Trees are planted by local crews and those from DCR.
The additional tree canopy is meant to have a larger benefit over an entire neighborhood by lowering wind speeds and temperature, in addition to providing direct shading.
The majority of trees planted through the program will be on private property. Those living in the targeted area can request trees through the DCR. A property visit will be scheduled by the agency to determine the best location for the trees. Residents and other partners must agree to a two-year watering program to ensure the trees’ survival.
The area in Lynn that will be part of the program includes Washington Street from the Lynnway to Western Avenue; Boston Street from Western Avenue to Summer Street; Summer Street from Boston to Western Avenue; Minot Street from Western to Bennett Street; Bennett Street to Commercial Street; and the Lynnway from Commercial to Washington.
The program targets areas with a small tree canopy, older housing stock, higher wind speeds and a larger rental population.
“We are very excited to be part of the Greening the Gateway Cities Program,” Kennedy said in a separate statement. “To be able to save energy while beautifying neighborhoods in the city is a win-win.”
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley