Joe D’Arienzo says the committee’s success so far is based on public support for its projects.

“In the past we’ve done Baranof School. Centennial Hall is a big one, and the crabapple trees there. Blatchley School. Advising the Firehall. And we’ve done some work up at Kimsham ballfields, although that’s been a pretty difficult substrate to get things growing.”

In all, the committee has planted 188 trees, 208 shrubs, and 15-hundred perennials on public land. It routinely holds workshops and presentations, consults on other agency projects like the Sitka Performing Arts Center and the roundabout, and participates in beautification efforts like the decorative traffic light standards on Lincoln and Lake Streets, and the Wild Fish Mural.

According to Sitka’s Parks & Recreation manager Lynne McGowan, all this has come at very little direct cost to local taxpayers.

 “Most of this is grant funded. There’s very little in the city budget currently to match what we’ve been able to get through the Division of Community Forestry. And part of this success is due to the fact that the funding source has been available over the years to pay for these sorts of projects.”

The Tree and Landscape Committee is a results-oriented, high-energy group. And they want to know where the public wants this energy directed next. Parks and Rec has developed a brief online survey on the City of Sitka website. D’Arienzo says it should take no more than about five minutes to fill out. Survey-takers are asked to prioritize a list of seven proposed projects downtown, and ten projects outside of core areas: Places like Sealing Cove Harbor, the airport, or the Erler Street electrical substation.

Click here to take the Sitka Beautification and Landscaping Survey (Through the end of January 2011).

Landscape an electrical substation? D’Arienzo says the electrical department spends a lot time pruning near power lines, when the right tree would make that work unnecessary.

“We’re hoping to establish a demonstration project there to plant some trees as examples of what type of tree to plant around power lines. Plus the folks around there would like to see that area prettied up.”

Pages two through four of the survey are wide-open, soliciting input on good locations for tree and shrub plantings, as well as public art. D’Arienzo says the survey will definitely help the committee determine where to go next. His advice to people who might shrug it off seems to be, Good landscaping does not happen by accident.

“You know it’s an integral part of our community and it’s taken for granted. You see the trees and see the landscaping – it really is integral – and people appreciate it.”
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