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Conservation Commission considers Arbor Day, grant application

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KENT—Jos Spelbos told the Conservation Commission March 14 that several locations at the firehouse, 28 Maple St., have been marked out as potential sites for an Arbor Day tree planting. 

Kent Center School students will be given an opportunity to choose the kind of tree to be planted. “We gave them some websites to look at and we hope they can look into that and make an informed choice of what tree they want to plant,” he reported.

He said that he had also contacted Eric Epstein, facilities manager for the fire department, for permission to plant on the grounds. Epstein will take the request to the next meeting of the fire department in April.

The commission spent some time discussing grants for street trees it might apply for. Tree Warden Bruce Bennett had suggested one program that benefitted Bloomfield, but it is for disadvantaged communities. While Kent is not disadvantaged, member Wendy Murphy noted that Bloomfield has a poverty rate of only 4.2 percent, while Kent’s is 5.1. “So, we come in under that set of standards,” she said. 

She added that Bennett had talked to representatives of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which suggested that the planting the trees as close to affordable housing as possible might help the town to qualify.

Member Jean Speck said that in Northwest Connecticut only Torrington and a piece of Winsted are classified as “low-income distressed.”

“If Bruce says it is okay, we should check it out,” conceded Chairman Connie Manes. “It may be as simple as are we eligible or not. If we are eligible, there are three tiers to this grant, and we need to choose what range of funding to apply for and what we want to do.”

The commission is still mulling over a plan for street plantings and what public participation there should be. Spelbos said that, if a grant were received, and a large number trees were purchased, the town crew would have to be pressed into action for installation. “Not everyone will want one, and I wonder if the town should pay for it if a business could well afford it,” he said.

Manes suggested that Bennett make the application to streamline the process. adding, “We have to determine if we eligible and create a plan, but anytime we discuss it we have to have a meeting,” she said. “It’s easiest to have Bruce make the application. As long as we are not meeting, we might all have a way of helping out.”

Spelbos said he would put together a list of native street trees and whether they can be grown below power lines.

Kathryn Boughton
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