For the 40th year, the city of Solon has been designated a Tree City, a program of the Arbor Day Foundation to recognize those communities that promote an urban forest canopy.
It is a title that the city takes seriously and is amongst just a handful of other communities to earn the designation for four decades now, Service Director Mark Hawley said.
“It has been something we have been a part of for the last 40 years,” he said.
It has also been a passion of his, Mr. Hawley continued, and his tree crews, which are responsible for the plantings as well as the maintenance of the over 8,500 tree lawn trees in Solon.
“It’s exciting to be part of it,” he said.
Solon’s service department has two full-time employees plus others as needed dedicated to maintaining the trees.
Spring and fall plantings amount to about 40-50 trees each season. Spring planting is set to begin toward the end of March or early April, Mr. Hawley said.
Solon follows a master plan when it comes to its plantings. Varieties include American Hop Hornbeam, Celebration Maples, Hybrid Elms and more.
“We are always trying to put the biggest and best tree in the site location,” Mr. Hawley said.
It is not so much about a particular flowering tree, color or shape of leaf, but based on the site, he noted.
“According to our master plan, we don’t want to overplant one variety,” he explained. Typically the department does not plant flowering trees as they are better suited for one’s yard.
A Solon native, Mr. Hawley said some of his favorite tree-lined streets in the city include Carriage Park off of SOM Center Road, where fully matured oak trees make a beautiful canopy, as well as on Forest Glen in the ABC Streets, which also features a canopy of trees.
“You don’t always know the trees are there, but you can feel them,” he said of the effects of the canopy.
In order to earn the Tree City designation, criteria must be followed. Those include dollars spent toward a tree program, the amount of public outreach and education that is done, as well as the presence of an in-house tree board that meets regularly.
The 2020 service department budget has an allocation of $75,000 for tree professional services and $2,000 for other related tree supplies, Finance Director Matthew Rubino said.
The city also has a $50,000 budget in a separate Tree Planting Deposit Fund to account for deposits from developers that are directed toward purchasing and planting trees.
Mr. Hawley said public outreach is done through such things as the city’s tree seeding program, where they are given away to residents around Earth and Arbor days. The city’s in-house tree board holds about 10 meetings annually.
Other communities with the Tree City designation include Hudson, Cleveland Heights and Lakewood.