By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The city received a $10,000 grant from United Illuminating to plant new trees and fittingly marked the special occasion at a downtown Arbor Day celebration Oct. 27.
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi, Tree Warden Leo Kelly, Tree Commission member Rosemary Beloin, and Democratic West Haven state Reps. Dorinda Borer and Michael A. DiMassa accepted the grant award from Albert Carbone Jr., UI’s manager of government and community relations, while dedicating the planting of a lacebark elm at Campbell Avenue and Center Street, opposite Jerri’s Luncheonette.
Also attending the brief ceremony were City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani, D-at large; Councilman Barry Lee Cohen, R-10; and Louis P. Esposito Jr., Rossi’s executive assistant.
According to Rossi, Borer was instrumental in securing the UI grant, which will support West Haven’s Tree Management Plan.
Rossi is working with Kelly and the Tree Commission to improve the city’s tree inventory process and implement a sustainable and safe treescape in the heart of downtown.
During the morning dedication, Rossi read a mayoral proclamation declaring Arbor Day in West Haven. The event was postponed from April 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Reading the proclamation, Rossi said the lacebark elm, native to eastern Asia, “is a tough landscape tree, hardy enough for use in harsh planting situations, such as parking lots, small planters along streets, and plazas or patios.
“Introduced to the United States in 1794, the tree is also an ornamental — arguably the most ubiquitous of the elms around the globe — and is found in botanical gardens and arboreta.”
Rossi 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.”
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.