The Hyattsville City Council passed an ambitious tree planting plan which would see 150 new trees installed throughout the city over the next few months.
The measure, introduced by City Council Vice-President David Hiles (Ward 2), is designed to combat what Hiles said was years of lax efforts to preserve and expand the city's tree canopy.
"I grew up in a hot, sunny part of the country, so I like shade," said Hiles after the meeting, referring to his childhood home of Austin, TX. "Hyattsville has a nice, mid-atlantic tree community, but over the last few years we haven't had an effective tree program…we've also had a few bad snow years, and that always whacks a lot of your trees."
A 2008 study by the University of Vermont found that Hyattsville's tree canopy covered 41 percent of the city.
As part of the plan, city staff would send a mailer to residents informing them of proposed tree planting locations and asking for feedback.
"The intent is to plant city trees where they are wanted," wrote Hiles in a memo to city council outlining his proposal.
Hiles also highlighted some threats to the city's tree canopy.
"PEPCO has recently requested permission to cut down more than 90 trees that may conficlt with power lines," wrote Hiles.
The last time the city embarked on a tree planting program of this size was in 2011, when the Department of Public Works planted 127 trees in honor of Hyattsville's 125th anniversary. According to Hiles, only 39 of those trees were located in West Hyattsville's Wards 4 and 5.
The new measure aims to balance that by focusing the tree planting efforts in Wards 4 and 5, where Hiles said there is a shortage of tree canopy.
The program is not cheap. Each tree would cost the city $225, for a total cost of $33,750. That would be paid from payroll funds currently designated for vacant positions in the Department of Public Works, according to Elaine Stookey, city treasurer and acting city administrator.