Maple trees, especially Norway maple trees, make up 50 percent of all trees in the Saratoga Springs downtown urban core, a tree consultant said Tuesday.
William Sprengnether of Cardinal Direction Landscape Architecture said a total of 4,800 trees are located within the city’s right-of-way.
A tree inventory was done over the past year by volunteers from Sustainable Saratoga, a non-profit organization seeking to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
The inventory information is being used to develop an urban tree master plan, Sprengnether told the City Council on Tuesday.
He said 30 percent of the city’s downtown trees are Norway maple trees, which are not native to upstate New York. Another 20 percent of the 4,800 are other types of maple trees.
He said the master plan being developed will probably encourage the planting of different species of trees.
The tree inventory and master plan will be used to “target areas for future planting,” Sprengnether said.
He said the state Department of Environmental Conservation recommends that no more than 30 percent of any tree type be planted in urban areas and only 10 percent of a particular species (such as Norway maple) be planted.
Sprengnether used a computer formula to calculate the annual benefit — $609,750 — trees provide the city through energy savings, air quality, and increased property values.
The city spends $128,000 on trees and tree maintenance each year so, according to the formula, city trees provide a net benefit of $481,000 per year.
The city received a state grant in 2008 to develop an urban tree management master plan. The local matching portion of this grant was covered by the Sustainable Saratoga volunteers who developed the tree inventory.
Sprengnether, a consultant hired by the city, is developing the master plan.
He said public comment is being gathered on two web sites. For more information see the city web site, www.saratoga-springs.org.
A tree master plan would outline ways to diversify the city tree inventory, increase the number of city trees, improve tree maintenance, and establish community tree plating initiatives.
Sprengnether said the first draft of the master plan will be developed over the next few months and be ready for public comment in February. The final master plan is expected by March.
In other business at Tuesday’s Council meeting, Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco explained the recent removal of asbestos and renovation of the roof of the city Visitors Center at Broadway and Congress Street. He also explained other renovation details of the project, which cost $250,000. Scirocco also explained the $130,000 in repairs and improvement to the handicapped access ramp at the city’s Canfield Casino in Congress Park.