Members of the city's Tree Board say they are hard at work trying to replace portions of the city's tree canopy lost over the years to both disease and infrastructure improvements.
Board member Dennis Kordes said this week he and fellow members officially began the process of getting prices and identifying locations for about 30 trees that will be planted within the city's Tax Increment Finance Zone after members of the Redevelopment Commission in April voted to give the board $15,000 specifically to plant trees.
The TIF zone includes the Hart Street corridor but thanks to an expansion in 2008 now includes a large portion of downtown as well.
As city officials, including the RDC, have repaved streets and replace sidewalks, the tree canopy is lost along the way. Now barren sections of Sixth Street, Hart Street and Shelby Street are prime examples.
Getting an additional $15,000, Kordes said, makes a world of difference in how much greener the Tree Board can make the city.
“With our regular $12,000 budget, there's just no way we could keep up with replacing trees as fast as we're losing them,” Kordes said. “So we're very thankful for that additional $15,000.”
Kordes said the Tree Board hasn't yet determined the exact locations for the 30 extra trees this year, but they will focus on areas that have seen the tree canopy diminished and they will plant them in groups.
They're shooting for planting, he said, sometime this fall.
“That way, we have plenty of time to locate utilities, things like that,” Kordes said. “We want to give due diligence to choosing a location that is viable and one where the trees have the best shot at survival.
“We also don't want them to interfere with existing infrastructure,” he said. “But we're confident these trees will substantially increase our city's canopy.”
Kordes said the Tree Board this week voted to plant four trees with money from it's regular budget, and they're continuing to focus on areas where trees have been removed.
In one particular location, he said, the Tree Board is removing two sugar maple trees where the homeowner is planning to replace the sidewalks.
When that project is complete, the Tree Board will replace those two trees, he said.
And it's such a policy, he added, that will make the city more green in the long-term.
“That's our goal now,” Kordes said. “If we take trees out, we want to put as many back in nearby locations. We've got to get trees back into our neighborhoods. Because if you take trees out of a neighborhood, it creates a pretty bleak environment.”
Kordes has long argued that a lush tree canopy does a lot more than provide shade to residents who live nearby. It's a major factor, he said, in attracting both businesses and families.
Tree-lined streets, Kordes said, are simply more inviting.
“Our kids deserve to see that tree canopy put back,” he said. “And it's not just curbside appeal. They make a city healthier. They make people proud to live here. Children deserve shade to play. Wildlife need habitat, and trees make it easier to heat our homes in the winter and cool them in the summer.
“And they produce this stuff called oxygen. Maybe you've heard of it?”
If you have an area where you'd like to see a street tree planted, contact Kordes at 812-887-0782 or send the Tree Board a message via its Facebook page by searching “Vincennes Tree Board and Landscape Commission.”