By SKEETER TOWER
Special to the OBSERVER
Eleven new trees, some of them spring blossoming trees, line the 600 block of Main Street, lending it a hopeful and more cared for look. Property owners pulled together to see what kind of a cooperative difference they could make this summer.
Jeff Ortell of 615 Main St., Dunkirk, with son, Evan, helps plant trees on his block. Jeff was the first to advocate for trees in his neighborhood.
We reported earlier on the neighborhood effort to plant flower gardens at the end of Sixth and Main with donated flowers from many sources and volunteers from the block, as well as the Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua, the Center for Peace and Justice, and donated water from the Mercado family. Property owners painted, fixed porches and roofs, landscaped and planted window boxes.
Marin Gonzalez at 620 Main St. was recipient of "Yard of the Week" recognition this summer.
Louis Raimondo of the Mendex Corp, a property owner on the block, has volunteered to "Adopt the block" for trash and litter pick up. Wal-Mart donated money for a trash receptacle. Funds from the community grant paid for the design and creation of the "Adopt a Block" sign. Mayor A.J. Dolce approved of the block adoption as a pilot project. Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. initially helped organize residents of the street, first providing a shared meal and then sending Bill Vogt, director of housing, to subsequent meetings.
COI also paid for the signs at the ends of the street, announcing that "This Block Matters" and is guiding long term tenants at one address in the process of buying the house they have been renting, now it is on the market. Chief Ortalano has cooperated with more vigilant community policing with reported success. Tony Gugino from the Department of Public Works will be installing the neighborhood watch signs on the block.
Tree planting was the last part of the project, and this was made possible through the generosity of a Lake Shore Savings Bank Community Grant. Jill Purol, and volunteer Nick Magis of Mancuso Greenhouses helped with the selection of trees and came in the rain to oversee the project. Students from SUNY Fredonia, Silver Creek Boy Scout Issac Hillman, Josiah Lamp from COI, Nancy Mayer and I from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Northern Chautauqua, and residents of the street Joe Moch, Amy Allnatt, Jean Engman, Jeff Ortel and son, Evan, came out to dig, plant, mulch and water the new trees. Yes, indeed, a very big cooperative effort to make a difference!
We can now look forward to the City of Dunkirk's application to become an "Arbor City" with grants making trees available throughout all city neighborhoods. Trees not only add beauty to a neighborhood but serve to produce oxygen, absorb carbon, slow storm water run off, control noise pollution from traffic and other sources, cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat and absorb pollutants. Trees shelter us from intense sun and heat, serve as a windbreak in winter and can actually lower heating costs. Trees fight soil erosion.
New and smaller urban adapting trees have been developed to eliminate some of the problems caused by the larger varieties of the past: disruption of sidewalks, sewer and electrical lines, seasonal debris such as horse chestnuts. Studies show that trees increase property values by more than 15 percent.
Let's cherish the trees, for this generation and the next.