Brattleboro will soon be going through a public process to determine how to spend over $3 million in ARPA funding. The selectboard will be setting up a process for gathering ideas and suggestions, evaluating them, and deciding what to do. They will be looking for items that give the greatest long-term benefit to Brattleboro.
As the Lorax would say, “I’d like to speak for the trees.”
I’m not sure what the right amount is, but for argument’s sake I’d like to suggest $100k be spent on shade trees. Few things would give longer-lasting benefits to the town.
Trees add value. Tree-lined streets generally raise property prices and are more desirable.
We need shade. Brattleboro’s big, old shade trees have been decimated in the last 30 years. Comfortable summer walks into town have been replaced by brutally hot, shade-free journeys. Want to encourage pedestrians? Make it more comfortable.
Trees remove carbon and freshen the air. We need trees to mitigate rising global temperatures.
Trees are home to bees, bugs, birds, squirrels and so on. We’ve lost a lot of habitat in town, and local insects and small animals suffer. A good tree canopy means squirrels don’t have to run across the road as much. Trees can help cats escape dogs.
Planting trees is historical – Brattleboro had a Shade Tree Association in the mid 1800’s. Members paid minimal dues and planted trees. The few remaining big trees around town were planted, most likely, by this group.
Trees are a long-term investment. It’s a gift to future generations, and the benefits will carry on for decades.
Unlike roads and parking garages, planting trees will require little ongoing maintenance. A tree doesn’t start falling apart as soon as it is in the ground. The opposite… it starts growing, becoming bigger and better with each season.
Trees won’t be attending the meetings of the Brattleboro Selectboard. They won’t be able to gather signatures on a petition, and they smartly avoid social media. It’ll take people to make the argument.
I hand this idea off to you, Brattleboro….