South Portland gets $14K grant to plant trees

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city has been awarded a $14,500 grant to plant trees in low-to-moderate-income neighborhoods. 

The City Council unanimously accepted the donation from TD Bank and The Arbor Foundation July 10, after the city’s Parks and Recreation and Waterfront Department applied for a TD Trees grant.

The money will allow for more than 40 trees to be planted at a Tree Days event in October by 25 to 35 TD bank employees who will volunteer their time for the project. 

Karl Coughlin, deputy director of the department, said proposed locations include the Redbank Community Center and Sawyer Park. The locations are flexible, Coughlin added, but said he wants to focus on the west end of the city because it does not often get the attention it deserves.

City Councilor Adrian Dowling requested trees be planted at the playground in the Redbank community. Dowling said he has received feedback from constituents who said as the area is not shaded by trees, the equipment gets hot and remains too hot for children to play on into the evening hours.  

Councilor Eben Rose recommended that the city plant black locust, which is a rot-resistant tree that grows well in marine environments. Rose said the species scavenges toxins in the soil, is indigenous to the region, and is fast growing. 

In a memorandum to City Manager Scott Morelli, Coughlin said in recent years, the parks department has planted more trees than have been lost, but the overall tree health in the city is in decline. Coughlin said many of the city’s trees are aging and being crowded by invasive plants or defoliated by winter moth. 

“This would provide us a wonderful opportunity to reverse these trends and provide trees for future generations to enjoy,” Coughlin said. 

Urban canopies provide environmental, economic and social benefits, the deputy director said, including noise buffering, preservation of wildlife habitats and sequestering of air pollutants.

Councilor Susan Henderson thanked the foundation and the business for the grant, saying planting trees is a good way to work on environmental issues and add greenery to the city landscape. 

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka

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