Council considers tree grant

Members of the Gloversville Common Council during Tuesday's meeting. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — The city may sprout new life this spring as the Common Council discussed applying for a grant that would subsidize the cost of planting trees.

Nick Zabawsky, consultant to the Community Development Agency, presented details to the Common Council Tuesday for a grant that is available from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation under the Urban and Community Forestry Program.

The grant is intended for the improvement of trees within city limits either in public spaces or on private property.

Grants are available for $10,000 to $75,000, and a 50 percent matching fund must be provided locally. The matching funds can be from any source, through local funds or in-kind services. Zabawsky said that there was a limit to how in-kind services can be counted.

The focus of the grant is planting trees, particularly trees of an appropriate size and type for the area. The grant also pays 50 percent of the cost to inventory trees in the community.

Zabawsky said that the grant has been available for a number of years, but Fulton County has not taken advantage of the resource recently. He said DEC officials had expressed interest in receiving grant applications from the county in conversation.

He mentioned that he had discussed possible locations for tree planting with Councilman-at-large Vincent DeSantis, including along the Rail Trail.

DeSantis noted that the city could use the grant to plant trees on city property utilizing volunteer efforts, Department of Public Works time, cash or some combination of the three. If the trees were planted on private property, the grant funds could be matched by the property owner.

“We could do a program for curbside tree planting that would subsidize a homeowner 50 percent of the cost of planting a tree and no cost to the city,” DeSantis said.

Sixth-ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski pointed out that trees planted curbside actually belong to the city.

DeSantis agreed, saying that although the homeowner would be responsible for payment and maintenance of a curbside tree, the city would own it.

He explained that planting curbside trees could provide a benefit to the city by helping to protect and maintain the sewer system.

“A tree canopy along the street is a tremendous benefit to the storm sewer system, because a mature tree captures about 30 percent of the water that falls in a storm. Then the tree actually sucks up some of the water with its roots, so a lot less of the stormwater goes into the storm sewer system,” DeSantis said.

According to DeSantis, a robust tree canopy in the city could help prevent combined sewer overflow.

He added that homeowners would not be limited to curbside planting under the program, participating residents could use the grant funding to plant trees wherever they preferred on their property.

DeSantis pointed out to the council that they would be taking action on another resolution that would tie into the program.

The night’s agenda included a resolution for the council to approve and endorse an application by the Gloversville Housing and Neighborhood Improvement Corporation for a grant from the state Urban Forestry Council.

GHNIC is applying for a $1,000 Arbor Day Program Community Grant for a tree planting event in the spring. The grant would also create a volunteer tree committee in the city. The purpose of the grant is to promote and establish community forestry programs.

The Common Council voted unanimously to approve and endorse GHNIC’s grant application. Zabawsky said that the application for the DEC Urban and Community Forestry Program will likely be included in the annual consolidated funding application process in April or May.

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