NEW PARIS — During a meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, New Paris Village Council was asked to consider becoming a Tree City USA community.
Linda Melody-Cottingim explained, it is inexpensive to do and can have immense benefits for the town.
According to the Arbor Day Foundation, Tree City USA is a national recognition program that began in 1976 and is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters. By meeting four fundamental standards, an incorporated municipality of any size can qualify.
The fundamental components of Tree City USA include:
•The formation of a tree board or department.
•The establishment of a public tree care ordinance.
•The formation of a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita.
•An arbor day proclamation and observance.
According to Melody-Cottingim, it will take a year to get the Tree City USA community status. If the application is approved, the village will receive flags and plaques to place around town.
Councilwoman Mary Jane Thomas noted, the village does currently have a tree ordinance which allows certain trees to be planted and requires property owners to maintain those trees.
“We write up the ordinance that says what they can do, but most people don’t maintain them. The reason we did that, is we had new sidewalks put in and we didn’t want the trees to [damage them],” she said.
Melody-Cottingim replied, in the ordinance, the village can limit the height of trees and even types of trees, to make sure they are easy to maintain.
“[Trees] add to the beauty of your town. They bring your community all kinds of other things. There are studies out there that shows, there is less crime, it is cooler, it is warmer, people have a better sense of satisfaction about the place they live, and it elevates their mood,” she said.
“I understand your concern, that makes a lot of sense — people might just not care. There are a lot of concerns, but there is also a lot of value in this. It may be a little pain in the butt, but trees aren’t hard to take care of. You can limit how call they are, you can put in shorter trees that are maybe only 20 feet tall and have a nice long lifespan of 50 to 100 years.”
“As long as you plant the right trees, you’re alright,” Councilman Luther Conway said.
Melody-Cottingim left information with council and asked them to reach out to her if they are interested in moving forward.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH