By Brandi Makuski
Mayor Mike Wiza said he plans to ask the city council in April to approve a new pilot program for planting more trees on the city’s busier streets.
The program will likely be limited to a two-block stretch of Main St. to start, and if successful, he said it could become a larger project.
“It’s a tree beautification program, I guess you’d call it,” Wiza said. “On those busier streets where the boulevard is too narrow to sustain a tree on its own, then the city could go on to private property and plant a tree.”
Wiza said a variety of trees would be chosen by the city forester, and interested residents would be reimbursed up to $100 for the purchase and planting of each tree.
While many of the program details are still in the works, Wiza said he will ask the city’s finance committee to approve allocating funds to the project at its April 11 meeting.
“We just want to see how it’ll work, and then we’ll look at possibly expanding the program,” Wiza said, adding a section of Main St. is the ideal spot to showcase the program because it is heavily traveled.
“We’re talking maybe two blocks for right now, maybe a dozen houses, so that’s 1200 bucks if someone wants to spruce up their yard or the city.”
When asked how the city could fund the program, Wiza deferred to Comptroller-Treasurer Corey Ladick.
Ladick said no such program was built into the 2016 budget, so if the council approved the proposal, funding would need to come from the city’s contingency fund.
“Generally that’s a fund we’d utilize for emergencies, unexpected expenses — say a boiler goes out unexpectedly or something,” Ladick said. “But I’ve seen some studies being paid for through contingency, as well.”
Ladick said the city’s forestry dept. has an annual budget of about $275,000, most of which goes towards wages and compensation, and has already been spoken for within the parks department.
“If this were to come up during budget talks,” Ladick said, “then I think we’d have more options, a wider variety of different pots of money to work with. But right now, contingency would be the only option.”