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Arbor Day Is Celebrated in Teaneck

“NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Township Council of the Township of Teaneck, do hereby proclaim Sunday, May 15, 2016, as Arbor Day in the Township of Teaneck, and urge all citizens to support efforts to care for our trees and woodlands and to support our community’s forestry program, and urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the hearts and promote the wellbeing of present and future generations. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Township of Teaneck will celebrate Arbor Day on May 15, 2016, at Herrick Park, hosted by the Shade Tree Advisory Board.”

With this proclamation, read by Roby Langert, Chairperson of Teaneck’s Shade Tree Advisory Board, the Arbor Day Celebration commenced. Assembled were members of the Shade Tree Advisory Board including Zina Barrera, Dania Cheddie, Norma Goetz, Anna Kurz, Ellen Schwartz and Sandy Wolkenberg. Also in attendance were Dan Daume, Environmental Commission Liaison, and Kevin Arahill, Department of Public Works Liaison.

Teaneck has a wide variety of species of trees including maple, oak, birch, elm, linden, sycamore, pine, copper beech, willow and many others. Many of our trees are quite old, as shortly after the Civil War the statesman William Walter Phelps planted thousands of pine, linden and other species on his expansive Teaneck estate. Many of those original trees still stand. Our township’s mature and majestic trees create lovely canopies over many streets and afford special beauty to our community.

Our trees also offer us many practical benefits. In the winter they shade our homes from cold winds and thus help reduce heating bills. In the summer, they provide shade, which may cut down on the need for constant air-conditioning. Health benefits of our trees include providing oxygen and helping reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air. “Our trees provide us with beauty as well as peace and tranquility. That is why we on the Teaneck Shade Advisory Board are grateful to the Teaneck Town Council for their constant support in our projects,” says Langert.

Every year the Department of Public Works plants the specific tree decided upon by the Advisory Board in the specific area designated. This year a Tupelo tree was selected to be planted in Herrick Park. According to member Norma Goetz, “The Tupelo tree (Nyssa sylvatica) is native to eastern North America. It is often grown as a shade tree as it offers thick, dark green foliage in summer. In autumn, its colors change to an intense orange, yellow and red. It attracts bees, fruit and many species of birds and mammals.”

Last year, at the Teaneck Night Out, the Shade Tree Advisory Board launched a new program which they dubbed “Trees of Love.” The motivation for the new project was to offer opportunities to individual Teaneck families to honor or memorialize their loved ones through the planting of a native tree in a township park. For a one-time fee of $350 covering the cost of the tree, planting and a water bag for the first few years, the purchaser may choose from a wide selection of native trees and select the park where the tree will be planted. In addition, a granite plaque will be provided mentioning the name and occasion to be marked, such as marriages, births, anniversaries, graduations and bar and bat mitzvahs. Memorial plaques to loved ones are also provided.

“To date, 19 Trees of Love have been planted in Teaneck from the launch of the program this past Fall,” reported Addie Lehman, part of the “TOLETTES,” the three women who head the Tree of Love Program. “The trees were planted in township parks including Martin Luther King Jr., Terhune, Andreas, Phelps, Votee and Eleanor Kilichek.”

Lehman went on to relate some of the moving background stories of the Trees of Love planted so far. In one case, a red maple was planted in Terhune Park in memory of a loved one. A sugar maple was planted in Votee Park alongside the picnic tables, the dragon and the playground to honor a person for whom this was a favorite spot. A fringe tree was planted by a wife in memory of her husband whose unshaven beard, which he refused to shave off, resembled a fringe.

This year’s Tree of Love was planted by Sandy Wolkenberg, member of the Teaneck Shade Advisory Board, to honor her co-member and dear friend Ellen Schwartz, on the occasion of Ellen’s 75th Birthday. Ellen’s daughter Addie, who resides in Vermont, is the co-sponsor of the tree. In tribute to her friend, Wolkenberg read a lovely poem by Karen I. Shragg entitled, “Think Like a Tree.” Shwartz was visibly moved by the tribute.

The program concluded with the actual planting of the tree by members of the Department of Public Works under the oversight of Kevin Aranhill. Sienna Dube, granddaughter of Chairperson Langert, and a student at Yavneh Academy, assisted in the planting.

For more information and to download an application for a Tree of Love, visit [email protected]

By Pearl Markovitz

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