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Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission

Meeting Minutes

February 9. 2017

Andrew Lowry Minutes:

Attendees: Andrew, George, Monica, Tim, Bron, Mike, Melody, Manish

This provides a summary of the decisions reached and the issues discussed at the above meeting.


A quorum was present.


Manish reported that we can’t apply for a CSIP grant this year. We should apply for a NJ State grant for $20,000 for the tree survey. We will need Council approval as the money has to be spent up front and then reimbursed by the state once the work is done. Davey Tree will be asked to quote. They provide location, species, condition and perhaps more information in their survey.

CSIP – this could be a major source of grant money (up to $300,000) as many towns don’t have the resource to fund the grants upfront so competition is less than might be expected.

Overpass Sign

It was agreed that the sign would say. Logo will be forest green.

Education Event – May 9, 2017

We will have a presentation by Nicolas Polanin. He will speak about urban trees. We will invite other ST commissions. It is important for members to attend as everyone gets Continuing Education Credits which we need to maintain our Commission status. The presentation will be at 8:30 in the library and we will host an informal dinner and discussion before at 6:30, probably in the Garden room?

Tree Nursery

Subsequent to the meeting Chris received approval of the requested permit. We will be getting 500 bare root trees and will need to plan for pick up distribution and planting. Tim, Chris and George will arrange for the necessary fencing and ground preparation once the weather is warmer.

Council Budget Meeting

Subsequent to the STC meeting four members of the STC made public statements in support of the STC and the $100,000 budget request. Will see how we come out.

Sidewalk repair – Resident notification

Crystal raised a concern about the way in which residents are notified about the Engineering Dept.’s requirement that they repair their sidewalk to comply with ADA. Basically the concern was that residents were unnecessarily startled by the notification and the time given to make arrangement for repairs. She agreed to develop a letter for residents explaining their options and how they can request extra time to evaluate the issue and comply.

Earth Day - April 23, 2017

STC will be represented as usual. Further discussion at the next two meetings.

Please let me know if I missed anything important.

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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.

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Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission

Meeting Minutes

Sept 12, 2017

Minutes: Andrew Lowry

Attendees: Andrew, Monica, Bron, Mike, George, Tim, Carolyn, Ian, Melody, Dan

This provides a brief summary of the decisions reached and the issues discussed at the above meeting


A quorum was present.

Minutes from July 11, 2017 were approved.

The elections of STC positions for the coming year were held. Andrew Lowry was elected chairman and Ian Keller, Vice-Chairman, Melody Corcoran, Recording Secretary. Monica agreed to stay involved and help out as much as possible. Monica was thanked for her service for the past year.

Terms begin in January but it was agreed that the new team would informally assume their positions in as of Sept. 13, 2017.

Village Street Planting and Adopt-a-Tree – 2017

Dan reported that 146 trees will be planted, 114 by the Village and 27 from Adopt-a-Tree. A total of 225 sites were visited but some locations were rejected as not viable. The sites were selected from a list of trees cut down beginning in 2014. All locations were covered in areas C&D as well as 14 in area A. George raised a concern regarding the accuracy of the 2014 list and will check to be sure we are working from the right set of data.

Chris will also be planting 100 trees on the streets which are being re-paved this year. The vendor selected for paving is JA Alexander. This company will sub-contract the tree planting. At this point we do not know the name of the landscaping company which will handle the planting.

CBD 2017 Planting

It was agreed that4 tree wells would be planted this fall. At the time of the meeting Trident Maple (2) and 2 underwire trees were to be selected. Tim, Dan and Ian subsequently identified 4 wells.

At the next STC meeting we will have a presentation from Shivre Winnegrad (SP?). she is from the League of Women Voters and is getting involved in getting business owners interested in tree planting. Mike to forward contact information to Andrew so we can understand her interest more clearly.

Core Training

This year Dan, Carolyn and Melody agreed to get some core training. They will coordinate among themselves regarding travel and days.

“It’s Greek to Me” tree planting issue

As background, the restaurant appeared to have killed the tree in front of it by wrapping the tree with Christmas lights. In July or August the restaurant had the treed cut down and was in the process of planting a replacement. This was stopped because Parks and Rec. had not signed off on the plan. The restaurant was subsequently allowed by a Village official to plant the tree.

It was agreed that the STC needed to communicate with the Village Manager and suggest that this is not the best way of handling CBD tree replacement. Parks and Rec. and the STC should always be involved in comparable situations.

Speaker for November 8, 2017 Conference

Bron has managed to confirm Andrew Hillman, Senior Urban Forestry Consultant at Davey Trees as the speaker. He will speak on the issues unique to urban, i.e. city scape, trees and helping them thrive. The presentation is at 7PM in the library. STC members can meet before for discussion and Pizza. Bron to provide specific times and places.

Tree Ordinance Status

The ordinance was not approved as written. Mike reported that there were concerns that it may have been too broad.

George Wolfson will edit the recently proposed “Tree Protection” ordinance and remove all non-tree protection components from the document.  The eliminated items can be submitted later in a different proposal, which could be accomplished either through the STC, REAC, or the "Green Team".

Afterward, will meet with Chris Rutishauser and develop administrative flow chart to show how the permit process will work and its relevance to other municipal functions.

Presentation will be made to individual council members to gain acceptance and soften objections to important points prior to submitting for a vote before the full council. Target date for presentation to full Council is prior to the end of October.

George stressed that we need an ordinance soon as possible as several potentially significant properties are likely to be subdivided and trees taken down in the process.


George reported that the nursery at the recycling center had been staked out and that we needed to do the following:

  • Clear brush from the area
  • Put up a fence for deer protection
  • Move the potted trees to the location and mulch them for the winter.It was agreed that we would need to organize volunteers for the work.  
  • Please let me know if I missed anything important.

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Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission

Meeting Minutes

June 13, 2017


Minutes Andrew Lowry:

Attendees: Andrew, George, Monica, Mike, Melody, Tim, Carolyn

This provides a brief summary of the decisions reached and the issues discussed at the above meeting


A quorum was present.

Minutes from April 11, 2017 were approved.

It was requested that the STC minutes be forwarded to the Dillon for posting on the Village Website

Grant Funds Spending

Monica indicated that funds for the NJ grant were spent as follows:

Bartlet Trees…………..700
Post Cards A-A-Tree.900

Total         $2,000

Confirmation has been sent to the state. Once bills fron the contractors are received they should be sent to Bob Roney for payment.


Tim reported he had received several calls about the program, these were general information calls. We have received 4-5 applications for fall planting.

Carolyn has issued a press release which has been picked up by Ridgewood News. We need to get the information on Facebook and Jiffy (?).  Manish will handle.

Village Budget

The Capital Budget has $55,000 for tree replacement and will be available June 20, 2017. It was noted that while unspent Capital funds can be carried over to the next year it is prudent to be sure that they are spent in the year in which they have been allocated. Future Capital approprialions are often based on what was spent in the previous year.  Given the amount of catch-up planting required it is important to be sure we spend the all the money allocated in this year.  The implication is that we need to be very schedule focused in planning the fall planting.

Tim reported that his post retirement replacement will be on board after July 3, 2017. Tim will be working with him until the end of 2017.

Tree Wells – Downtown Trees

Ian presented the findings from the tree well excavation. He thanked Chris for sending Ryan and the excavating equipment without which the effort would have been impossible (we did not realize how hard the sub-soil was)

There were several pieces of learning:

  • The first 12 inches of soil seems to be fairly good, but is very compacted.
  • The seconds 12-18 inches is a mixture of gravel, construction debris and sandy grit. Clearly this is not a good soil at this depth.
  • There is a 12-18 inch cement collar surrounding the pit. This would inhibit lateral root growth and would force roots down, into the less desirable soil.   
  • Other observations were made but the general agreement of the STB, after the discussion, is that we should ideally replace all the soil in the pits when a planting is planned.
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Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission
Meeting Minutes
August 14, 2018

The regular meeting of the Ridgewood Shade Tree Commission was called to order at 7:35PM on August 14, 2018 by Andrew Lowry.

Andrew Lowry, Dan Cramblitt, Melody Corcoran, Ian Keller, Carolyn Jacoby, Declan Madden

Approval of Minutes
Motion to approve the minutes for July 10, 2018 was made by Ian Keller, seconded by Carolyn Jacoby, and approved by all present.

Andrew Hillman’s Draft Tree/ Tree Well Evaluation Report

Tree/ Tree Well Evaluation
Ridgewood, NJ
Broad St. and Ridgewood Ave.
Draft Report

Project Description:
1. Evaluate the condition of the trees and tree wells on two blocks of Broad St. and on the entire length of East Ridgewood Ave. These blocks were selected due to their visibility in the Village. They have 109 tree wells.  They are not necessarily representative of all (205) trees/tree wells in the Central Business District but many of the issues identified in the evaluation are reflected on other streets.  The evaluation took place on July 28, 2018 from 9: AM to 4:30 PM
2. Identify problems and possible causes
3. Make recommendations for improvement as appropriate.

This evaluation is viewed as an initial step in developing a comprehensive plan for improving the vitality and longevity of trees in the CBD.

Summary of Findings

The trees and tree wells on Broad St. and Ridgewood Ave. (105) are in poor condition. 

• 51% are either dead (mostly empty tree wells) or in very poor condition (not able to be saved)
• 28% were judged to be in “good” condition but even these have some issues which could lead to premature death or risk of falling or splitting.
• 21% were judged to be of “middle” or fair health.  Not thriving but not likely to die in the next few years.  Some of these might be salvageable but in most cases they are not the right tree for the location.

The reasons for this situation are fairly identifiable but unfortunately not easy to address in the short term.

• The trees are stressed by a lack of water
      o Tree Wells do not have enough soil
      o Tree Well Design – Brick Collar
      o No watering by Village
      o Mulch compressed – sheds water
      o Vehicle damage

• The Species Planted
      o Several not suited to urban environment
      o Not disease resistant

• Little maintenance over the years
      o Little structural pruning
      o No disease Treatment?

• The renovation of the tree wells in the 1990’s
      o Elevated soil which increased bark decay
      o Mulch makes it worse

Next Steps

• Complete Report (work with Hillman and STC)
• Agree on design of test wells for 2018
      o Brick Collar
      o Cement circle
      o Extra Bricks removed
      o Soil (get specs for PH etc.) CU soil
      o Drains/water tanks
      o Mulch/grate/bricks etc.
      o Supports

• Agree on Species – and find nursery sources

• Develop planting specs for Bidding
      o Qualified Landscapers
      o Supervision
      o Detailed Specifications

• Agree on Planting Plan

CBDAC and Tree/Tree Well Improvements:

After the STC has received and agreed on Andrew Hillman’s recommendations, the improvement plan needs to be presented to the CBDAC to get their buy-in and agreement. The plan then needs to be presented to the village council. The esthetics and benefits of improved trees and tree wells need to be emphasized – an attractive treescape is good for businesses and the village.
Andrew Lowry will contact Andrew Hillman to get his recommendations on the design of the wells and also a review of available porous materials that could be used for the tree wells.
Declan Madden will contact Andrew Hillman re suitable tree species. He will also start working on the specifications for tree planting bids. The requirement that a Licensed Tree Expert (LTE) must be on site and supervise the planting process will be included in the bid specifications.
The developers of new downtown construction need to be informed that the streetscape guidelines developed using Hillman’s recommendations must be followed. Andrew Lowry will follow-up with the village on how to accomplish this.


The watering system installed in July is working well. It was extended to water more trees that are waiting to be planted. Many of these trees are species that are not suitable as street trees; it was suggested that these trees may possibly be given away to residents.
The potted trees need to be moved to a more attractive location. Placing these trees alongside the firehouse was suggested as a better place for them; Dan Cramblitt will look into this and other possible sites for the potted nursery trees.

Carolyn Jacoby spoke to Dylan Hansen, CGCIO village manager’s office, about the steps necessary to update the AaT application on the website. A Word file is needed to enable editing of the document.
Carolyn Jacoby will also contact Lisa Simms of the NJ Tree Foundation on their bidding process for tree planting.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:20PM by: Andrew Lowry.
Minutes submitted by: Melody Corcoran

Volunteer Hours: 7

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