Methuen Mayor Steve Zanni announced last month that Methuen has qualified for matching funds through the Department of Conservation & Recreation’s (DCR) Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Grant Program.
Mayor Zanni and members of the Methuen Arbor Group joined with Groundwork Lawrence last November to apply for this funding through DCR. The coordinated grant proposal asked for $30,000 to support different projects throughout Greater Lawrence, including almost $9,000 that would go towards planting trees at different locations within Methuen.
“Our urban forests are public treasures and by investing in these forestry programs across Massachusetts we insure these natural resources are maintained and enhanced for future generations,” DCR Commissioner Jack Murray said. “This grant encourages the betterment of our urban environments.”
“Budget constraints have restricted projects like these in the past,” said Mayor Zanni. “These funds give Methuen the opportunity to enhance our public spaces, without taking money away from other important programs. This is a welcomed award that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of the Methuen Arbor Group, Groundwork Lawrence, and our local legislators.”
“Groundwork Lawrence is very excited to be partnering with the City of Methuen and the Methuen Arbor Group to increase the City’s tree canopy,” said Heather McMann, Executive Director of Groundwork Lawrence. “Trees provide numerous benefits including improving air and water quality, reducing energy costs, decreases in stress levels, and increases property values.”
“When I first approached Mayor Zanni about developing this initiative, I never imagined how quickly this would all come together,” said Jay Griffin, who worked with the Mayor to first organize the Arbor Group. “This is an important step in Methuen going green.”
The $9,000 marked for Methuen’s tree planting efforts must be matched by the municipality. Seeking to conserve funds, Mayor Zanni and the Arbor Group have been privately fundraising to meet the City’s obligation. Volunteer labor can also contribute towards the match.
“I am extremely pleased that we received this grant,” said Arthur Nicholson, another resident who organized the Arbor Group. “These funds will go a long way in fulfilling the Arbor Group’s mission to see a greener Methuen.”
So far the Arbor Group has raised approximately $6,000 from several dozen residents and businesses. This includes personal donations from Mayor Zanni, as well as State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives and State Representative Linda Dean Campbell – both of whom worked closely with Merrimack Valley legislators and colleagues at the state level in getting the grant proposal approved by DCR.
“I was very happy to submit a letter of support with my legislative colleagues to the Department of Conservation & Recreation to advocate for this funding,” said Sen. O’Connor Ives. “I also appreciate DCR’s selection of this specific grant proposal; now, more trees will get planted in Methuen to enhance quality of life with increased shade, improved air quality and improved streetscapes.”
“It is exciting to work with the City and the Arbor Group to get this project moving,” said Rep. Campbell. “The Arbor Group is so passionate about surrounding Methuen’s unique and historical architecture with natural beauty. I am looking forward to working with them on future projects.”
“I couldn’t be more delighted about this award for the Methuen Arbor Group,” said State Representative Diana DiZoglio. “As they are so valuable to our environment, I have long supported tree planting efforts in Methuen and encourage local residents and businesses to do what they can to assist the project.”
“I am pleased that the Methuen Arbor Group in conjunction with Groundwork Lawrence was able to secure $9,000 in funding for a tree-planting project,” said State Representative Frank Moran. “This is great for the community, great for the environment, and I look forward to working with them on future projects.”
The Arbor Group will use the DCR funds for target planting along Broadway, by the Library, at Elmwood cemetery, and by the recreation area at Forest Lake. Planting is anticipated to begin in the fall when the weather cools. In the meantime, the Arbor Group and Mayor Zanni will continue working with Groundwork Lawrence, as well as on their public education campaign and fundraising efforts.
For more information on the Arbor Group, or to learn how to make a tax deductible donation, please contact Phil DeCologero in the Mayor’s Office at 978-983-8506.