A Mayor's Legacy
The Parma of today looks vastly different from the Parma of the 1970's. Station wagons remember those? The Ford LTD wagons once common are gone from our neighborhood driveways.Today Sport Utility Vehicles fill the void. Pintos with the large goldfish bowl rear windows were popular and Volkswagen Beetles were seen, often a teen driver at the wheel new license tucked into her suede fringed purse. Parma Home Bakery & Kitchen Maid Meats, Baron's Bar and James Books a glimpse of yesterday. Time moves us forward. What has happened to Parmas trees?
I have heard stories of out of town family visiting back home. Stark changes in landscape noticed, the loss of trees that once were. Trees are not unlike people with a lifetime measured by years. Tree by tree Parma continues to cut trees down with a horrible efficiency. Why does Parma continue to cut it's trees down? I have asked that question of both Mayor Tim DeGeeter and Council at the Monday night council meetings. The question is met with a continuing silence
Many of the trees cut down were 35-40 year old trees . Tree lawn trees cut down at the homeowners request. The Mayor appears desperate to please these constituents in granting thier requests. He continues to maintain an outdated global view of our city's dwindling tree canopy. Mayor DeGeeter has long supported West Creek's endeavors yet our city trees have received much different treatment. While a planting of fewer than 200 trees earlier this year has occurred, Parma has a dismal record in repairing the cutting damage.Two tree plantings in the last 23 years. City leaders were notified in June of the 500 trees cut down. Yet that number has continued to rise. At the time of this publication more than 700 trees have been cut down all over Parma throughout the 9 wards and city parks in the last 2 years alone.
Mayor DeGeeter remains unmoved and resolute in refusing to address the crisis. Parma has been without an Urban Forester or Arborist and it shows. In our parks and neighborhoods pavement increases and the city appears more grey. Parma's tree canopy is shrinking at twice the rate of neighboring cities. One response the city has offered has been that the trees are diseased or a safety concern yet offer no documentation to support those claims.
The expertise of Executive Director Derek Schafer of West Creek Conservancy is heavily leaned upon by Mayor DeGeeter and City Council. Yet that expertise is nowhere to be found with the removal of more than 700 trees. Mr. Schafer remains separate and uninvolved. The decision to cut those 700 trees has been made by the Mayor and our City leaders by matter of default. Meanwhile Cuyahoga County leaders encourage growth of our tree canopy for a multitude of health and fiscal reasons.
Trees are the lungs of our earth. They provide oxygen, store carbon and regulate temperature extremes. Parma neighborhood tree lawn trees are city owned. Although they reside at the homeowners address the trees remain property of the city. Those 700 trees belonged to all residents. After Mayor DeGeeter has served his term and moved on, the damage that has occurred these last years will have implications for decades to come. I am a 56 year old resident of Parma. The next time I will be able to walk under trees again that are the same age as those removed I will be 96 years old.
We can do better, we can demand an educated approach to the management of our city trees. Above all, stop the cutting. Politicians will only respond if we as citizens voice our concern and continue to voice that concern until Parma will at long last become a tree friendly city.