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Revival takes root at Point: Volunteers, city workers begin tree-planting project at Gratiot

Pictured between Dunkirk city workers moving new trees to Point Gratiot are, in center at left, John Scott and Patrick Lyons.

Revitalize Dunkirk, Inc. is grateful for the hard work and cooperation of everyone involved in last week’s successful planting of 33 trees at Point Gratiot. Last week’s perfect weather and good advance planning allowed a crew consisting of seven volunteers from Revitalize Dunkirk, five members of the city’s Parks Department, and two Greener Gardens Nursery employees to complete the project in one day.

Thanks are due to Public Works employees including DPW Director Randy Woodbury, Parks Supervisor Jason Cieslewicz, Bob Karin, Tyler Karin, Nick Christopher, and John Romanik who assisted in various ways. They pre-approved planting sites, transported all trees to the park, loosened soil with a city augur, and moved each tree to its previously marked location to facilitate quick and efficient planting by Greener Gardens employees Jill Jaquith and Brian Beckwith. City workers also will be watering the new trees until the ground freezes.

Revitalize Dunkirk volunteers Ron Burnside, Al Hollander, Patrick Lyons, Dan Mucha, Mary and Steve Rees, and John Scott assisted by staking and mulching the newly planted trees. In addition, prior to Wednesday, Jim Enser helped select and mark planting sites appropriate for each species.

The just-completed project was paid for with community contributions to Revitalize Dunkirk and a $2,500 Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation Environmental Grant awarded in late June. Since May, the organization has received over $4,000 earmarked for trees at the Point from 34 individuals and businesses, in amounts ranging from $25 to $500. These combined funds covered the cost of trees, their transportation, nursery employees’ labor for planting, and other necessary supplies.

Revitalize Dunkirk began accepting such donations at the request of community members following an Earth Day event in April in which its volunteers added 12 new trees in the park. Soon after, Trish Thompson, moderator of the “Point Gratiot, Dunkirk NY” Facebook page, contacted the organization asking if she could post information on donating money to it specifically for trees at the Point.

Pictured between Dunkirk city workers moving new trees to Point Gratiot are, in center at left, John Scott and Patrick Lyons.

At its May meeting, Revitalize Dunkirk’s Board of Directors agreed to allow donations restricted for this purpose with the understanding that it would be unable to take requests for specific tree species or locations, or provide any type of memorial markers, since doing so would be too burdensome for its volunteers. In July the board established a committee chaired by Steve Rees charged with organizing a project to utilize these funds.

Since “the right tree for the right spot” is key to survival, committee members sought expert advice. Species chosen were mostly those native to our region and were guided by recommendations from Cassandra Pinkoski of the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District and Nate Morey, state Department of Environmental Conservation Urban Forester, along with lists of appropriate trees included in Dunkirk’s 2019 Tree Management Plan.

To be clear, replacing the dead trees with ash species is not recommended. The overwhelming majority of over two hundred dead trees at the Point are native ash species killed by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive insect. Ash trees that aren’t dead yet, probably soon will be. As its name implies, EAB targets and kills multiple ash tree species. Death occurs after EAB larvae tunnel through and feed on the tissues just under the outer bark, completely disrupting the transportation of water and nutrients.

Obviously, last week’s work is just a small part of what still needs to be done. DPW employees diligently continue removing the most dangerous and unsightly dead trees in the park, and the city’s Development Office staff are applying for grants aimed at off-setting re-treeing expenses for municipalities all over the state. Revitalize Dunkirk thanks all who donated time, money, expertise, and energy to its recent effort which it hopes will kickstart similar future projects.

Revitalize Dunkirk, Inc., is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization with a mission of advocating for improved urban living by enhancing the City’s physical infrastructure, reinvigorating commerce, and boosting community pride and vision. The organization promotes projects to beautify the community through public landscaping and art, enhanced streetscapes, and community involvement, with a goal of increasing business, tourism, and residential opportunities.

Pictured between Dunkirk city workers moving new trees to Point Gratiot are, in center at left, John Scott and Patrick Lyons.

All members of the community with similar concerns are welcome and encouraged to attend Revitalize Dunkirk’s quarterly general meetings on the fourth Wednesdays of January, April, July, and October, 6:30 p.m., at the Fredonia Technology Incubator, 214 Central Ave., Dunkirk. For more information visit us on Facebook or at: www.revitalizedunkirk.com. The 2024 membership year begins on Nov.1, 2023. Application forms are available on the website.

The NCCF grant that aided this tree planting project was made possible through the Foundation’s generous community-minded donors. The NCCF is committed to improving the community through the promotion of local philanthropy, strategic grantmaking, and community leadership. The organization has distributed over $17 million in the form of grants and scholarships within the community. For more information, call (716) 366-4892.

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