A Tree Grows in Mount Vernon
When a smiling group of Mount Vernon citizens joined together on April 30th for our first community tree planting, it was clear that a very special seed had been sown.
The white swamp oak tree planted in Hartley Park that day had its roots in over 7 years of public effort, finally bearing fruit with the passage of Mount Vernon’s Tree Ordinance by City Council, on December 23, 2020.
Much in the same way trees interact with the ecosystem to create and sustain a better environment for all, our Tree Ordinance is the result of unprecedented cooperation and collaboration between the public, our elected officials, and the hard-working employees of our City government from the Planning Board to the Department of Public Works and Law Department.
This legislation has already branched out in a number of positive ways. In January, our status as a Tree City was restored, confirming Mount Vernon’s renewed commitment to managing and expanding our public trees – and opening up many new grant opportunities for the community.
We now also have a Tree Advisory Board, consisting of a Certified City Tree Surgeon, a representative of the Department of Planning and three members of the community, to help ensure our tree program reaches its goals.
And finally, the Mount Vernon Tree Fund was established. One example of the power of this new initiative: recently the City settled with a property owner, who violated permits and ordinances (cut down several trees), in part by making a $35,000 contribution to the Tree Fund. It’s a result where everyone who lives here gets to share in the benefit.
Mount Vernon has a long and proud history of public action and advocacy. With such strong roots, our community can once again look forward to blooming and growing in the days ahead.
The writer, Janice Duarte, is a member of the City Council of Mount Vernon and a candidate for re-election this year. She can be reached at jduarte4council.com.