By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the voice
Throwing ceremonial shovels of dirt, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and Tree Commission members dedicated the planting of an eastern redbud on the east lawn of City Hall in observance of West Haven’s Arbor Day celebration Friday.
Accompanying Rossi for the annual tree planting were members of the newly revived commission, including current member Moshe Cohen and new member Rosemary Beloin.
The Tree Commission, which has not met since 2016, was reactivated by the mayor with the appointment of Beloin and three other new members — John Haas, Robert Marra and Michelle Matteo — at the City Council meeting April 22.
All four had served on the commission in the past and have agreed to work with Rossi to bring back the promotion and preservation of healthy trees for the benefit of the community. They join Cohen to round out the five-member commission.
Also attending the afternoon event were mayoral Executive Assistant Lou Esposito, tree warden Leo Kelly and city tree contractor Bob Herrington, owner of Herrington & Sons Tree Specialists LLC.
Rossi marked the special occasion, held on the Campbell side of City Hall near Main Street, by reading a mayoral proclamation declaring Arbor Day in West Haven.
Rossi, who huddled under an umbrella held by Esposito amid the wind-blown rain, said the redbud tree species, native to eastern North America, “is commonly planted as an ornamental in public areas because of its showy pink flowers and heart-shaped leaves.”
She added: “Trees reduce the erosion of topsoil by wind and water, cut heating and cooling costs, moderate the temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen, and provide habitat for life. Trees, wherever they are planted, are a source of joy and spiritual renewal.”
Rossi said the commission also plans to work with Kelly to improve West Haven’s Tree Management Plan and tree inventory process, along with implementing a sustainable and safe treescape in the heart of downtown.
Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by Julius Sterling Morton in Nebraska City, Nebraska.
By the 1920s, each state had enacted public laws mandating an Arbor Day observance. The customary observance is to plant a tree.
On the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872, more than 1 million trees were planted.