HAVERHILL — The city's efforts to restore many of its formerly tree-lined streets to how they looked years ago has continued with the planting of about 75 new trees.
The project included five saplings planted on the sidewalk in front of a plaza on Main Street — just up the hill from City Hall. The area has several businesses, including an auto parts store, a laundromat and a smoke shop.
Ron "RJ" Arigo, owner of Bay State Smoke Shop at 200 Main St., had watched workers from William F. Dunn Landscaping of Groveland plant the trees and said he likes the results of their work. The city had put the project out to bid and Dunn was awarded the contract, which includes additional tree planting in the spring.
"Once they're in bloom, they should brighten up the area and make it look more inviting," said Arigo, who is known as "RJ."
He said workers with Dunn did a nice job and that the dark mulch spread around the bases of the trees was a nice touch.
"Trees make it look more like we're part of a neighborhood," Arigo said.
Mayor James Fiorentini reinstituted the program several years ago with the idea that trees enhance property values and add to the aesthetics of a community. He said this latest round of tree planting was paid out of a combination of state grant money and money the city had budgeted for this work.
"We cannot do it all in one year, but our eventual hope is to replace the tree canopy on Main Street and Summer Street that we once had," Fiorentini said. "Over the years, we have made a concerted effort to plant trees and restore some of the lost tree canopy in the city."
Roland Goudreault, the city's deputy tree warden, said the landscaper has been careful to choose types of trees that are appropriate for where they are planted. He said eastern red buds were chosen for the area in front of the plaza where Arigo's shop is located because when they mature, they will not interfere with overhead utility lines.
On River Street near the Comeau Bridge, several trees that were planted years ago grew so large they had to be removed. They were replaced by smaller trees that won't grow as big, such as tree lilacs.
Other kinds that were planted include Kwanzan cherry, honey locust, red maple and sugar maple, Goudreault said.
The city provided Dunn with a suggested list of tree types, but the contract allows for suitable substitutions.
"It's definitely easier to pick trees you won't have to prune and which won't buckle sidewalks," Goudreault said. "But it is a challenge to have a tree thrive in an urban environment."
Several trees that were planted a few years ago along Washington Street near Fantini Bakery did not survive for various reasons, including damage by vehicles and vandalism, so they were replaced.
David LaBrode, a volunteer with the Brightside organization who is involved in an effort to bring back the American Chestnut tree, said this recent tree planting is another step toward bringing green to areas of Haverhill that haven't had trees in years.
"The mayor has been a strong advocate of replanting many areas of Haverhill since 2004 and this is yet another step in the right direction," LaBrode said. "From what I can see from this latest planting project, the city has also targeted areas where trees had previously existed, but for one reason or another died."
Working with Haverhill's Brightside in the Highlands neighborhood, LaBrode had noticed that one tree, an Accolade elm the city had planted six years ago on Park Street, had died and needed to be removed.
"A couple of weeks ago, I had noticed a new tree was planted in its place," he said. "I was surprised and pleased to see it replaced."
He said the landscaper the city hired has taken great care to place the right trees in the right locations, as well as provide quality mulch around their bases.
"The city should be commended for these continued efforts in creating a beautiful urban forest for future generations," LaBrode said.
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