Point Gratiot tree replacement plan proposed

Trees have been removed from Point Gratiot in recent years due to the Emerald Ash Borer.

A Dunkirk resident wants to organize a group to replace trees at Point Gratiot destroyed by the emerald ash borer.

“I, like everyone here, considers Point Gratiot sacred ground,” Mary Louise McGraw told the city Department of Public Works Committee this week. McGraw said she is “sick” at the loss of the trees and “it grieves me.”

She proposed a non-profit organization, tentatively titled “Project A Tree For Thee,” to sell memorial trees for planting at the Point. McGraw envisions people buying trees as memorials or commemorations for loved ones, who would then be named on ground-level plaques beneath each tree.

She wanted to know if DPW could create the signs, using materials supplied by the program. “This is not asking the city to donate anything,” she said.

McGraw hopes for a community effort like the Hero Banner Program. “You have three (kinds of) trees to pick from, A, B, C. You fill out a form like you did for the Hero Banner… wham, bam, thank you ma’am.”

Committee members asked who would run the program, and McGraw said she would.

Councilwoman Nancy Nichols, committee chair, said she had already discussed the plan with McGraw. Nichols called it “a great idea” because Point Gratiot “is so devastated.”

Deputy DPW Director Mike Przybycien said, “This is a good idea and we have to have more conversations to figure out the logistics of it.”

His boss, Director Randy Woodbury, assured McGraw that DPW could handle creating commemorative signs. Public Works Supervisor Tim Gotowka suggested using bricks, noting they can be engraved cheaply, and the city already has experience with that at the dog park on Main Street Extension.

As for trees themselves, Woodbury already has a tree-planting pilot project set — but it will happen at Wright Park, not Point Gratiot.

“We don’t have a master plan for the Point yet to replant and also add pavilions,” he told the OBSERVER. “I have a need for 20 new trees at Wright Park.”

Woodbury said at the committee meeting Wednesday that he wants to “reforest” the banks of the creek in Wright Park. There was formerly thick undergrowth there, but it was all removed in the last couple years by Chautauqua County Soil and Water workers.


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