The meeting was officially called to order January 10, 2017, at 7:36 p.m. by Shade Tree Commission Chair Monica Buesser in the Garden Room on the first floor of Village Hall 131 N. Maple Ave.
In addition to the Chair, those attending included: Ian Keller, Manish Shrimali, George Wolfson, Melody Corcoran, Bron Southerland, Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cronin, Council member Mike Sedon and Girl Scout Allie McCandless with Troop 1136.
Ms. McCandless explained that she had all the information she needs and will submit her proposal to map Ridgewood’s tree canopy and then build a tree nursery to the Girl Scout Council for her Gold Award Project. Ms. McCandless has visited the proposed nursery site and has begun talking to other Girl Scout leaders and troops to get the necessary volunteers to build the fencing and clear the land to plant the trees.
Ms. Buesser mentioned that all volunteers should be limited to girl and boy scouts as they have insurance to cover volunteer activities.
Mr. Wolfson said the key to getting this accomplished is meeting with Mr. Cronin and the Village Engineer Chris Rutishauser, to which Ms. McCandless said she would send her proposal. To use the large piece of property for the nursery, Mr. Rutishauser will have to get a letter permitting its use from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The proposed fence is a non-permanent structure and should be allowed by the DEP in the flood plain. Chris works with girl and boy scouts all the time and is great at keeping these projects going, Mr. Wolfson said.
Sedon said the council can approve the project at its Jan. 25th meeting, and that he could get it on the agenda.
Mr. Keller asked if there was irrigation at the nursery site. Mr. Cronin replied there is none in the large area, but the smaller area has access to water.
Mr. Keller suggested running a landscaper line and removing it in the winter. Mr. Cronin said the budget will include pots, fence, etc. the Village already purchases many of the materials that will be needed, so he could get costs.
Mr. Wolfson said it could be done relatively inexpensively using recycled materials.
Mr. Shrimali asked if she needed more volunteers. Ms. McCandless said she was confident she could get volunteers and that the final deadline for the project is September 2017. She plans on finishing this project in the spring.
Mr. Shrimali offered his Boy Scout troop for help.
Mr. Wolfson explained that the proposed nursery location is behind the garbage trucks at the Village’s recycling center.
Ms. Southerland said April 1st is when the whips will be available from the state.
Ms. Buesser explained that there are 500 bare root whips that need to be kept moist. She said they could be planted in 5 gallon buckets, and that Metropolitan Plant is currently throwing these containers out.
Mr. Keller said he knows the son of the owners of Metropolitan Plant who is a bee keeper and could contact him to see if he could get these containers.
Ms. Buesser said we cannot give the whips away. Mr. Keller asked if machines could be used in the flood plain to clear the land, to which Mr. Cronin replied that you can dig and move soil around, but you can’t add soil. The Village owns a small backhoe that can be used to dig a trench for the potted tree whips.
Mr. Wolfson stated that we could start out with pots in the ground and noted that not all 500 trees will survive. Ms. Buesser suggested planting the trees close and pulling the ones that die. Mr. Wolfson added that we previously started out with 60 whips and currently 45 are surviving. Mr. Cronin asked to have the narrative and shopping list sent to him. The Village will use double high plastic fencing, which would be temporary in the eyes of the DEP because there would not cement footings. Ms. Buesser said everything could be moved out of there.
Mr. Shrimali informed the group that he would be sending an accomplishment report this evening about the activities of the Shade Tree Commission in 2016 to finish the submission of a Five Year Forestry Management Plan. If approved we will find out Jan. 13th. If there are questions final approval could take between 3 and 4 weeks.
Mr. Wolfson Said the tree protection ordinance is currently with the Village engineer, and he is waiting on responses from others before he can complete it.
Mr. Cronin said the Village could be ready to plant trees by April or May of this year. He said the bids went out and the prices are in. The Board of Education will be planting 33 trees this year. Mr. Shrimali said that now we have to keep track of the location, addresses of the newly planted trees for future progress reports. Mr. Cronin said the BOE maintenance official could provide those locations to him. Ms. Buesser said the more information the better. Mr. Wolfson said the information should be properly formatted and then any information to produce any reports that we want could take place. There was an i-Tree discussion about formatting and putting the information into an Excel spread sheet. Mr. Shrimali said he could get the format and bring it back to the group for the next meeting.
Ms. Buesser said Adopt-A-Tree is on hold until Spring. Mr. Wolfson said that process should get started earlier to get the word out to vendors. Mr. Keller asked if Adopt-A-Tree information could be placed on the Village’s calendar for next year. He also asked if the information could be placed on the electronic sign at the train station. Ms. Buesser asked if we could get a space over the train trestle. Mr. Cronin explained that you have to book two weeks at a time in advance through the reception desk in Village Hall. A banner could be made for between $250 and $300. Mr. Cronin stated that he would look into this and see if there is any time in March available. Other ideas to increase visibility would be walking in the July 4th parade or building a float.
Mr. Wolfson said that Ian and Andrew’s project to dig out the tree wells in the Central Business District will be aided by schematics of the CBD in the engineering office. All tree wells are different, and as it happens PSE&G has a project on Broad Street between West Ridgewood Avenue and Franklin Avenue. Mr. Wolfson said it almost doesn’t matter what is there, it’s how you solve it. Boston put drain pipes into their tree wells around the roots. It shouldn’t be that expensive, and we could do it as construction projects happen downtown. Storm water tree pits, or getting water to the trees naturally is preferred since getting the trees watered is a challenge.
Ms. Southerland said she would contact STC member Crystal to see how far she got with designing a STC logo. She said she could get someone to do it. Mr. Cronin suggested that the Signal Department could create a sign. They just need the art.
Mr. Shrimali said the biggest project for this year is to get the tree inventory completed or started. It could take several years. Mr. Keller said Hawthorne did one. Mr. Shrimali said he would reach out to other towns to get costs and names of people who do this. He said we should go for smaller grants too.
Mr. Cronin said the Village CFO is preparing the budget now. The CFO wants to take the tree planting money out of the Parks budget this year. We will need support for a $100,000 tree replacement program. Mr. Shrimali said a meeting with the Green Team should be set up to identify grants to help with this project.
Ms. Buesser asked about Oak blight. Mr. Cronin said it is a fungus, and we have it in town. It could kill a tree in 5 to 8 years. There is no cure.
Ms. Buesser said the Tree City annual application has been sent in.
Mr. Shrimali said we should plan for our CEU’s for the year and have one educational discussion a quarter.
The meeting was adjourned by Ms. Buesser with all in agreement.