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 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.”