OSWEGO, NY – At a recent school board meeting, city councilor Eric VanBuren announced plans for a cooperative venture between the city and the Oswego City School District called “Grow Out.”
“I’d like to start a tree grow-out station in the city right near where Duer Street is, there is an access road for the DPW and there is a large field between Riley Elementary School and that road. I’d like to use a small portion of it just to plat 30 to 40 test trees to see if the project will work,” he told the school board.
After meeting with Ben Halsey, superintendent of schools; Dr. Linda Doty, Riley School principal; and Oswego City School District Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds David Crisafulli, VanBuren said the school district has approved use of a small plot of land on the grounds of Riley School, along the Duer Street Extension, to grow trees.
It was city-owned property but the city deeded it to the school district about seven or eight years ago, VanBuren noted.
There is still a backstop there, but he didn’t believe many softball games or practices are held there these days.
“Is part of this plan to do away with the field and plant trees there?” asked school board vice president Sam Tripp.
“I would like to expand if the project worked,” VanBuren said.
The plan will begin with a test bed, roughly 100 feet long by 12 feet wide where 30 to 40 oak, tulip, ginkgo and sycamore trees will be planted.
These trees will range from two-foot tall “whips” to eight to 12 feet tall.
It is a lot cheaper to buy the eight-foot tall ‘whips’ and grow them (than a larger tree), VanBuren pointed out.
“We’d grow them, cycle them out and then we’d start using that station to grow more trees. Hopefully, we’d also find other areas in the city to expand on this so we could continue feeding the tree canopy,” he added.
“If it does work, then those trees will be dispersed throughout the city in the public space and our parks.
I thought it was a good spot because I’d like to involve the students at Riley at some point in the planting,” VanBuren continued. “The Oswego Tree Stewards will be taking care of the maintenance of the trees. They have also offered to teach classes about tree care, identification and other things.”
The planting would provide a venue for field trips to introduce the elementary students to the tree growing and identification processes, the councilor noted.
“If there is vandalism up there, who is responsible?” asked board member Lynda Sereno.
“That’s all on us; all the stuff is ours,” VanBuren said. “We just need the use of the space.”
“So this will just be a starter plot and you’ll dig up the trees and take them to other parts of the city and transplant them?” Tripp asked.
“Yes. We’ll add them to the councilors’ counts every year. Right now we each have eight trees; we’ve scaled back a little. If this worked out, as they grow in the four or eight years whatever it takes for them to get big enough, – there are three types of trees so it varies for when they are ready for transplanting but when they are we’ll take those and add them to the (councilors’) list so we can divide them up between the wards,” VanBuren explained.
The entire grow-out process will work in cycles over multiple years to help increase the city tree canopy, the councilor explained.
He added that he is looking forward to working with the Oswego City Board of Education and administration and would like to thank them for their support.