Tonawanda News

December 7, 2013

Trees planted in NT as part of bio-retention project

Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Newly acquired trees were put in place this week along Webster Street, one of the final portions of a green infrastructure project to ebb the amount of polluted water flowing into the Erie Canal. 

The $570,000 project began in September, when dozens of Locust Trees were felled along a two-block stretch between Sweeney and Goundry streets, after North Tonawanda officials cited the need to find smaller and less intrusive species for the budding street. They say the trees will work more efficiently with a bio-retention system installed over the last several months and would be easier to maintain. 

Engineering reports have documented that Webster Street averages 40.54 inches of precipitation each year, with 2.4 million gallons of runoff entering the canal. The report also shows the retention system, also known as rain gardens, will reduce stormwater runoff into the canal by 58 percent and remove 95 percent of solid pollutants, including oil, gasoline, nitrogen and phosphorus. 

The city’s Community Development arm, fronted by members of the Lumber City Development Corp., which applied for the state grant, met on several occasions with members of the Downtown Merchants Association of North Tonawanda to go over the details of the project and to retrieve the incite of local business and property owners. 

Michael Zimmerman, LCDC planning and development coordinator, said the selection of trees was made off of a larger list deemed to work well in Western New York’s climate. 

“We showed them the trees and we narrowed it down based off of their input,” he said. 

Kay Learned, owner of Hodgepodge Gifts and Home Decor, said she and about 30 members of the business association helped choose the trees, which were selected from a list of 10, ending with two species including the non-fruit-bearing Jack Pear and the Ivory Silk Lilac trees, which generally grow to a maximum height of about 20 feet. 

About 27 of them were expected to be put in place prior to Saturday’s Downtown Winter Walk of the Gateway Cities, officials said. The remainder of the project, entailing the planting of about 10 more trees in front of the Riviera Theatre and Webster’s Bistro, will take place in the spring, along with a layer of permeable asphalt along the street.  

“I’m happy that these new smaller trees will look nice on the street without blocking sings and dropping on the sidewalk all year round,” said Learned, referring to problems with Locust trees taken down in September. “I’ll be thrilled when it’s done.”