Hundreds of trees are dying all at once in Schenectady’s neighborhoods, Mike Tamasi told the Schenectady City Council Monday.
He spoke on behalf of ReTree Schenectady, a private nonprofit group that has planted trees throughout the city for decades.
The council gave ReTree an honorary resolution for Arbor Day, but ReTree needs much more, Tamasi said.
Last year, the city took down 283 silver maples, he said. The rate has increased this year, he added.
ReTree only has the funds to plant about 100 trees a year. He appealed for donors and volunteers to help make up the difference.
“We’ve got to have a big push going forward. If we don’t, it will change our streetscape,” he said. “The old silver maples are all planted at the same time and they’re all coming down.”
They were popular between 1900 and 1949 as many of the city’s neighborhoods were built, he added.
“In every neighborhood, when they developed them, they put them in because they grew really fast,” he said.
But later they were less loved. Their root balls grow up, pushing up the sidewalks, and they rot from the inside, leading to large limbs falling, he said.
“They’re not ideal,” he said.
ReTree plants a variety of trees, taking into consideration sidewalks and overhead wires as well as trying not to plant too many of one tree type.
But it needs help. The agency is looking for volunteers with organizational skills, as well as those who want to plant trees.
“We could use some young blood,” he said. “We’ve got a lot more to do, especially at the rate the trees are coming down.”
Replacing the trees along city streets would cost about $125 per tree, he said.
Those who want to volunteer should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or attend the next tree planting, scheduled for the last Saturday in April in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.
“The more hands the better,” he said.
In other business, the council heard from speakers on whether to restart a long-defunct advisory board for affirmative action.
All five speakers were in favor of the board.
Resident Jennifer Garvin said that despite a decade of experience with national insurance companies, a master’s degree and teaching experience, she had so much difficulty getting a job here that she nearly moved back to Westchester County.
“There’s just not people like me up here, that look like me, in those positions,” she said, adding that she found her experience “unbelievable.”
Resident Ellie Pepper also said the board is needed.
During her years working at Better Neighborhoods Inc., she saw how much time it took to recruit and advise women-owned businesses to write successful construction bids.
“It requires time and effort,” she said, adding that the county Affirmative Action Manager Miriam Cajuste needs help.
“Clearly she should not be expected to do this on her own,” she said. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.”
Councilwoman Marion Porterfield has gathered resumes for the nine-member board, with 19 submitted by the deadline. The council and the mayor could appoint new members as early as next month.