PeoplesBank Donates $80,000 for Regreening Efforts

The Republican | Mark M. Murray

PeoplesBank announced has recently dontated $80,000 to help replace trees destroyed in five Western Massachusetts communities by the tornado of June 1. This donation represents the first donation that has been earmarked for the replacement of trees destroyed by the tornado.  Springfield has received $40,000 of that amount, which will be used to kick off the ‘Regreen Springfield’ initiative, which aims to involve community members, organizations and non-profit groupd in the planting of trees in the affected neighborhoods.   West Springfield will get $15,000 for replanting in the Union Street area. Wilbraham and Monson will receive $10,000 each, and Westfield will receive $5,000 for trees at the Munger Hill School.

The donations are part of a $200,000 commitment PeoplesBank has made for tornado relief.

According to an estimate by the U.S. Forest Service, 1,340 of the 3,340 “public” trees in the parts of Springfield hit by the tornado were destroyed or had to be removed. When trees in yards or other private places are counted, that number is estimated to be 13,000 trees.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno accepted a check for $40,000 from PeoplesBank President Douglas A. Bowen in a ceremony on Island Pond Road in July.  He also presented the city with a young American Elm, its roots bundled up and ready for planting, which will be planted in Nathan Bill Park, which had very heavy tornado damage..

“It’s symbolic of what the city is going through,” said Bowen. He referred to a botanic disaster of the mid-1900s, when a fungal disease almost wiped out the American Elm.

The little elm will be the first tree replanted in Springfield following the tornatod.  Nathan Bill Park is one of 10 parks in Springfield affected by the tornado, said Patrick J. Sullivan, director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management in Springfield.

Edward Casey, city forester, predicted that the little tree would be 25 feet tall in five years. He said the $40,000 would be used to purchase at least 100 mature trees for planting.  Casey said Springfield will work with an arborist strike team from the U.S. Forestry Department, which will bring “a lot of good skills and experience” to the process.

The city will develop a master plan by September, and will begin replanting trees in October.  Among the Springfield streets that can expect trees are Island Pond and Plumtree roads, Walnut and Central streets and South Branch Parkway.

Bowen said PeoplesBank has been “a leader in green financing,” and has financed $50 million in wind, hydroelectric and solar power generation throughout Massachusetts. Two of its 16 banks, one in Springfield and one in West Springfield, are LEED-certified, meaning that the U.S. Green Building Council has certified them in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

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