Center City District and City of Philadelphia team up to fill empty tree pits

(December 7, 2011) – Today, the Center City District (CCD), in collaboration with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PP&R), celebrated a new partnership created to plant street trees in 99 empty tree pits that pock Center City sidewalks.  To date, this exciting new partnership has planted 60 new trees, including four honey locusts in front of 1900 Market Street, where the ceremony was held. The remaining 39 trees will be planted next spring. This partnership is also helping the City attain its goal of planting 300,000 trees by 2015 and expanding the CCD’s Plant!Philadelphia program.

For many years, the CCD and PP&R have independently planted street trees in the downtown, but this is the first time they have teamed up to “fill in the empty pits,” many of which have long remained empty after trees have died or been severely damaged.

The CCD surveyed all the sidewalks in the district and documented the many tree pits that were bereft of trees. In addition, the City made a dramatic change in its policy: Instead of property owners putting their names on a waiting list for trees, the City now informs property owners that a tree will be planted, with an option for the property owners to opt out. As a result of streamlining the process, street trees will be planted more quickly, enriching the downtown in practical and aesthetic ways.  Street trees add value to property, increase the beauty of the downtown, help lower temperatures in the summer and clean polluted air.

The City provided labor and a variety of trees, including London plane, oak, American elm, Japanesezelkova, and ginko. The CCD coordinated with property owners to establish locations for the plantings, in conjunction with the CCD’s Plant!Philadelphia program. PP&R will maintain the trees for the first year, and the CCD will continue their care for the following three years.

The City’s Greenworks initiative calls for a comprehensive tree-planting campaign and is relying on partnerships with various organizations and institutions to help achieve its tree-planting goal.

Speakers at the “fill-in-the-tree-pits” ceremony today were Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the CCD;Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner, PP&R; and Pamela Casey, General Manager, 1900 Market Street.

“The Center City District is committed to expanding Center City’s street tree inventory and helping the City meet its 300,000 goal. CCD already maintains more than 800 trees in the District, planting about 60 new trees each year. This collaboration with the City enables us to expand the number of trees we plant, filling in unsightly tree pits and making our downtown more beautiful, healthier, and a more competitive location for business,” said Paul R. Levy, President and CEO of the CCD.

Michael DiBerardinis, Deputy Mayor for Environmental and Community Resources and Commissioner, PP&R, also heralded the new partnership. “Trees improve the quality of life, from decreasing air pollution to aidingstormwater runoff to enhancing the beauty of the city, and we are grateful for generous partners such as the Center City District, who are working with us to achieve our tree-planting goal of 300,000 trees by 2015.”

Pamela Casey, General Manager, 1900 Market Street, said the many people who work in the eight-story office building on Market Street West appreciate the new greenscape. “As the general manager of a major commercial property in Center City, we are thrilled to accept these beautiful trees and support the greening efforts of the Center City District and City of Philadelphia.  Maintaining a green streetscape clearly enhances the attractiveness and value of our building and makes a more pleasant atmosphere for our tenants.”

The CCD’s Plant!Philadelphia program is a comprehensive program that engages donors of gifts large and small to enhance the greenscape of Center City and support the City’s Greenworks 2015 goal. Launched last year, Plant!Philadelphia has garnered a number of generous donations, all of which are tax-deductible and help plant and maintain trees downtown. Plant!Philadelphia contributions make excellent presents for the nature lover on your holiday list! For more information, please go to www.centercityphila.org/about/plantphila.php.

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