With the fall planting season on the horizon, members of the Urbana Shade Tree Commission have ramped up their efforts to help the public celebrate a special achievement, honor a deserving person or organization, or create a last remembrance of a love one by sponsoring a tree through the City of Urbana Memorial Tree Program.
Establish in 2015, the program serves as not only a public outreach, but also a chance for the city to increase the tree population at Melvin Miller Park and Oak Dale Cemetery.
“We are going to lose so much of the cemetery canopy over the next 10 to 20 years,” said Doug Crabill, city community development manager and Shade Tree Commission member. “It’s just important that we keep planting.”
To help increase interest in the program, Crabill said, the Shade Tree Commission has reached out to local funeral homes and churches, while also receiving promotional help from Susan Tehan, Oak Dale Cemetery coordinator.
“We’ve been promoting it quite a bit,” Crabill said.
In the program’s inaugural year, eight trees where purchased in honor or remembrance of seven different individuals.
“We had a few that were more honorary than they were memorial last year,” Crabill said. “I think it’s going to be a successful program for us, and it’s a really good opportunity for us to get more trees planted both at the park and at the cemetery. Giving people a way to honor people locally is also a good thing.”
The individuals or honorees of the 2015 memorial trees were Eric Stalbird, Joyce Stickley, Clyde Burnett, Janice Evans, Ron Rowe, Wendell L. Marratta and Peggy Kussman (two planted in her honor).
Of the eight trees planted last year, five were planted at Melvin Miller Park and three were planted at Oak Dale Cemetery.
“We did have one, for whatever reason, not make it through the winter, so we have to replace that one for the donor this fall,” Crabill said. “We’ve promised we will replace any tree up to three years.”
Memorial tree sponsors can choose from a variety of tree species, including swamp white oak, chinkapin oak, shumard oak, London plane, bald cypress, shingle oak, burr oak, black oak, dawn redwood, tricolor beech, amur cork and silver linden.
The memorial tree program application states, while the city will make every effort to provide the tree requested, in the event the species is not available, a replacement species will be selected in accordance with the city’s tree plan, in which oak species are encouraged.
“We’ve really put a focus largely on stuff that is native and does well in this area,” Crabill said. “You want something that is going to last a while.”
Seven of the eight tree planted via the program last year were of the oak species.
There is a $350 charge to sponsor a memorial tree, and included in the cost is an etched paver block that will be placed near the tree. Any money left over after all expenses are covered are put back toward beautification efforts, Crabill said.
“My goal is to keep track of the costs were are expending on the program versus what we are bringing in,” he added. “After we get so many years in, we can use the excess funds to purchase additional trees.”
For individuals looking to sponsor a tree this year, the application is due by Sept. 15 and is available online under the cemetery section on the city’s website at urbanaohio.com.
For additional information, contact Crabill at 652-4305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.