Officials in New Hyde Park have made a focused effort to plant more trees across the village, garnering national recognition.
The effort started about five years ago, after superstorm Sandy hit the village and ripped trees out of the ground. During the storm, tree limbs fell on homes and roots cracked sidewalks. The damage made residents leery of planting new trees, said New Hyde Park trustee Richard Pallisco.
“You looked down each block and avenue and all the trees were gone,” he said. “After superstorm Sandy, they didn’t want trees anymore.”
In 2015, the village formed a tree committee made up of New Hyde Park residents that meets five times a year and advises the village public works department on where to plant trees and which species should be used.
Pallisco said that so far this year the village has planted 65 trees, many of which are purpleleaf plums. That’s up from about 63 flowering plum trees planted in 2016, and about 60 golden rain trees planted in 2015.
The village is also offering free starter trees for residents at Village Hall, Pallisco said. The trees, purchased by the village, come with a packet that tells residents how to prune the tree, spot signs of sickness and add mulch.
The committee’s work has helped the village earn a Tree City USA designation from the Arbor Day Foundation. The village placed a sign on Jericho Turnpike last month announcing the designation.
The foundation said 111 other New York communities have the Tree City designation, including Floral Park, Great Neck Estates, Amityville and the Town of North Hempstead.
Amber Morrison, program coordinator for the Nebraska-based Arbor Day Foundation, said New Hyde Park’s designation gives the village a higher score when vying for grants from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Pallisco, who is the liaison between New Hyde Park and its tree committee, said the village has been buying trees for $150 each. He said the village will apply for state grants this year, which could enable it to purchase more trees.