MEDINA - 2017 marks an important milestone for the Village of Medina- the village has earned the designation of Tree City USA for ten years.
"We've come a long way and have accomplished many great things with urban forestry here in Medina." said Christopher Busch, Chairman of the village's Municipal Tree Board. "Its so much more than planting a few trees. We have a comprehensive urban forestry program in Medina and are very proud of what goes into achieving our Tree City status."
Busch has been the chairman since the board's inception in 2005, authoring the village's Municipal Tree Ordinance with the help of Dr. Nina Bassuk, Department of Urban Horticulture, Cornell University.
The Municipal Tree Board was formed as a response to a NYS Pass-Through Project: the reconstruction of Routes 31, 31A, 31E, and 63, including Main Street and other major thoroughfares within the village.
"Many trees were being removed in preparation for this massive road project prompting citizen concern" said Busch.
"We had lost hundreds of mature trees over the last 30 years through old age, storm damage, and disease and were losing more with the pass-through project. Without an ordinance and a tree board, the village had little if any control over what was being done."
With those concerns in mind, former Mayor Howard Lake gave the go-ahead to investigate a tree ordinance and formation of a tree board and with the help of Dr. Bassuk, an ordinance was researched, drafted, reviewed, and adopted in time to effect the final stages of the pass-through.
"We have made and continue to make incredible progress," said Busch. "Throughout our community evidence of that progress can be seen along many of our major thoroughfares. The Mayor and Board of Trustees are very supportive of the Tree Board's efforts, and are committed to the process of reforesting our community and maintaing Tree City status."
According to Busch, citizens too have been supportive as well through Memorial Tree donations and by purchasing trees through the Village and donating them for right-of-way planting in front of their homes.
"Every year we have an increasing number of citizens who donate trees for planting via memorials or simply because they'd like trees replaced in front of their homes. Despite an aggressive planting program, some areas on side streets won't be planted in the immediate future, so residents help us reach those areas of need via donations."
Medina has had some large donors as well.
"In recent years, some community members have made extremely generous donations towards reforesting the village," said Busch. "One of those people is long-time Medina resident, Robert Sanderson."
Sanderson is vice president of marketing and a managing partner at Candlelight Cabinetry, and has been recognized two years in a row as a "Friend of the Urban Forest" in Medina.
At the 2016 Arbor Day Celebration, Bob Sanderson spoke to hundreds of school children as he accepted his award. "Both companies (Kitchen World/Candlelight Cabinetry) make their living in the woodworking industry; therefore it is fitting to be making this Tree Donation to State Street Park and the Village of Medina."
As the students applauded, he said, "We are very proud to have a part in keeping Medina's reputation as 'the Village with all the trees.'"
A big part of attaining Tree City status is establishing an annual Arbor Day observance. In Medina, Nicole Goyette is the Arbor Day Coordinator. Goyette is the Gifted and Talented Coordinator in the Medina schools and a member of Medina's Tree Board.
"Local schools are a largely untapped community resource," said Goyette. "From our students will come the next generation of Tree Board members, DPW tree planters, community tree organizers, homeowners, mayors and trustees. They are the future of the community's' urban forest."
Medina bills its Arbor Day celebration as "the biggest and best in Western New York" and Goyette defends that claim.
"As a Tree City USA, we feel that our Arbor Day observance needs to be something very special. Our celebration is attended each year not only by dozens of citizens, but by 500-600 hundred school children as well. There may be another community doing that in WNY, but if there is, I'm not aware of it. Our celebration is a big community event!"
For some time, the villages' Municipal Tree Ordinance and Arbor Day Celebration have been a model for several other communities looking to establish a board and planting program.
"We receive contacts every year from municipalities across the state, seeking advice. Its gratifying to know that we're doing something so well, that others have noticed."
Busch notes that the Tree Board has been described as a "working board" and a "hands-on board."
"We have a wide array of responsibility. We work hand-in-hand with the DPW, Code Enforcement Officer, the Mayor and Village Board and together, I think we do a great job. There's a lot involved in getting it done right. We earn our Tree City USA status every year."
Busch said some of the responsibilities associated with an on-going urban reforestation program include annual planting/pruning/shaping, site assessment and plan development, planting coordination, mulching/weeding, identification and removal of dead/dangerous trees, training tree handlers, updating & maintaining Risk Survey and inspection of trees for disease, damage, etc.
The list of accomplishments amassed over the past fourteen years by "Tree City Medina" is impressive by any standard. As of summer 2017, the Medina's Municipal Tree Board has:
- written and adopted a comprehensive municipal tree ordinance that has been a model for other communities.
- established a working Municipal Tree Board.
- established policies and procedures for the care, maintenance, and reforesting of the village.
- established a web site that has been held up by forestry professionals as an example to the forestry industry.
- reforested the major portions of the main thoroughfares and Central Business District in the village.
- participated as presenters in a Genesee-Finger Lakes Regional Planning Conference session on municipal trees.
- established a comprehensive risk survey of the village forest and subsequent maintenance priority schedule, resulting in a safer environment and minimal storm damage due to maintenance and removal of dangerous trees.
- established a comprehensive risk survey of the forest in Boxwood Cemetery,and subsequent maintenance priority schedule.
- established a viable memorial tree program with a memorial tree garden at City Hall.
- developed forms and process whereby residents can request a ROW tree planting at a reasonable cost.
- developed forms and process whereby a memorial tree can be purchased at a reasonable cost.
- annually undertaken site plan assessment, developed site plans, and selected plant material for planting of 60-80 trees.
- annually pruned several hundred young trees (Tree Board members do much of this)
- developed and disseminated press releases on the forestry related achievements of the Village of Medina.
- developed an informational brochure.
- established a widely recognized Arbor Day celebration with hundreds of school children in cooperation with the Medina Central School District.
- established Medina as a nationally recognized Tree City USA with annual recertification.
- established Medina as a nationally recognized Tree City Growth Community
- established Medina as an active annual participant in National Grid's 10,000 Trees and Growing Program, often more than $1,000 in annual reimbursements for appropriate and approved underwire tree plantings.
Jack Feltz is the Senior Forestry Supervisor for the National Grid West Genesee Region and has worked with Medina's Municipal Tree Board for many years. Feltz always points to Medina as a model Urban Forestry program wherever he goes.
"Over the last fourteen years, the Village of Medina has implemented an aggressive plan to remove and replace high-risk street trees. Silver maple was the predominant species in the village," said Feltz.
Like many villages in WNY, streets were planted with hundreds of stately Silver Maple decades ago. While beautiful at maturity, they quickly degrade and become dangerous. Hundreds of eighty-foot tall trees with weak wood and insect infestation is a tough problem. In Tree City Medina, National Grid has played an important role in mitigating that problem.
"In cooperation with National Grid Forestry, the village has removed hundreds of over-mature, at-risk trees, and done an outstanding job of backfilling those planting locations with site-compatible species. Chris Busch and the Village Tree Board have set the bar at the highest standard and have put a huge amount of thought and foresight into selecting a variety of species and cultivars, avoiding the historical practice of planting a monoculture."
Over those fourteen years, Feltz has also worked hand-in-hand with the village DPW and gives them high praise for their urban forestry efforts and Tree City USA status.
"A special thanks should be given to former DPW Superintendents Paul Nowak and Pete Houseknecht for their cooperative spirit in this lengthy process," said Feltz. "I cover a large service territory and deal daily with our DPW Superintendents and our local government leaders. If they ever have a question(s) about how to re-forest there community, I vehemently suggest that take a ride to Medina, NY and put eyes on a forward and progressive Urban Forest Plan."
The Tree City USA Program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the National Association of State Foresters, and the USDA Forest Service. Tree City USA is awarded annually to those communities who qualify and is a national designation.