The Town of Middletown today announced that they have achieved the prestigious “Tree City” honor.
Matt Sheley, Public Affairs Officer for the Town of Middletown shared the following “News You Can Use”.
Middletown has been designated as a “Tree City.”
Late last week, local leaders learned of the prestigious national recognition from the Arbor Day Foundation, the Nebraska-based nonprofit dedicated to the planting of trees across the United States.
In response, area officials said they were proud of the distinction and would continue to work hard to make the community the best place it could be to live, work and play.
“The recognition is important because, first, it demonstrates in a very public way, the incredible support the town governing boards and the town administration has given to our urban forest,” said Karen Day, chairwoman of the town’s Tree Commission, which submitted the application seeking the “Tree City” designation.
“It gives us an opportunity to highlight the benefits trees provide from providing a beautiful landscape, providing habitat to wildlife, to cleansing the air, lowering the temperature, and helping to manage stormwater runoff in a very low tech but efficient way. The signs that are provided (along High Street and Turner Road) are visible reminder of our commitment to their success.”
Over the past two decades plus, Middletown has worked hard to protect and preserve its open spaces and scenic vistas as much as possible without stifling positive development to help the town grow in appropriate ways.
It’s not uncommon to hear area officials talk about concerns with projects encroaching on untapped areas and the potential over commercialization of its open spaces, particularly on the east side of town.
However, the town has taken major steps on the west side too, none bigger than the creation of the Middletown Valley Park behind the Aquidneck Shopping Centre. The park on O’Neil Boulevard and High Street acts as an oasis for people across the community to visit and walk the gravel trails away from the nearby hustle and bustle of West Main Road.
Through the Tree Commission, the town also has a robust tree planting program, one that encourages public and private property owners to grow a variety of trees on their property. For more information about the volunteer group’s work, visit https://tree commission.middletownri.com online.
Town Council President Robert J. Sylvia said all the moves are part of a concerted effort by the town to make Middletown a high-quality place for families to enjoy and grow.
“I know personally, I’m honored at Middletown being named a ‘Tree City,’” Sylvia said. “We’ve worked hard, really hard, at maintaining an excellent quality of life here and the natural beauty of the town is a big part of that. Kudos to the Tree Commission and everyone else involved for making this a reality and it’s another reason Middletown is a great place to live, work and play.”
According to information on its website, there are more than 3,400 cities and towns recognized with the “Tree City” label around the United States by the Arbor Day Foundation.
In order to be considered for the achievement, Day said a community must show the Arbor Day Foundation the following criteria:
1. A tree ordinance with a Tree Commission or Board who works for the support of trees in the town.
2. The town must spend at least $2 per capita directly for the planting and maintenance of trees.
3. The Town Council (or similar governing board) must have a proclamation in support of Arbor Day.
4. There must be an Arbor Day recognition ceremony or activity in the town, although that requirement was waived in 2020 and may be waived this year.
Day said once she completed the application on behalf of the Tree Commission, it was submitted to the Urban Forestry Department at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. She said that state group reviewed the paperwork and forwarded it the Arbor Day Foundation for final approval.
“This is the third time we applied and the third time we have received recognition,” Day said. “All of the cities and towns on Aquidneck Island now have ‘Tree City’ status.”
In coming weeks, Day said the Tree Commission is planning around Earth Day.
“We are planning, as part of the Aquidneck Island Earth Week celebration to do a tree seedling give away. Details will be coming soon,” Day said. “The Tree Commission’s mission will continue and we will do all we can to make sure our ‘urban forest’ continues to grow and the trees we have previously planted will receive the attention they need to thrive.”