Parma's Living Infrastructure
The ball sailed out of sight that glorious, warm, summer night. We gathered at old Mr. Baker's lawn on the north side of Parma. We played outdoors. Mr. Baker was a favorite. He liked the neighborhood kids, and we liked him. To our amazement Mr. Baker shared his beer with his dog Pixie occasionally.
The ball descended. As it reached his fingertips, the neighbor boy hollered a number and relaunched the ball into the sky.
It was our night, during our summer, on our street in 1976.
Home/Parma looked very different then. Trees lined nearly every street. We had shade to retire under on those scorching summer days after running through the sprinkler.
Losing a game of SPUD required proposing to every tree on the street. A kiss to their cool bark was followed by, "Please Mr. please sir, won't you marry me?” The roar of laughter quieted the crickets momentarily.
Someone would shout, "Kick the can," and our summer night continued.
We've had a devastating tree loss since those long ago summer nights. I worry that Parma’s Urban Forest is not being managed as the infrastructure it should be.
Parma has the opportunity to step into a brighter tomorrow. We need to. Our public managers have a lot on their plates with limited resources, so creating a Tree Commission to support Urban Forest management is a great place to start. By working hand-in-hand with Parma’s leadership, the Tree Commission could help identify needs and offer cost-effective, long-term solutions and quality management strategies for this critical infrastructure. Thoughtfully developing a program that best fits Parma – our history, our structure, our community – is key to creating a sustainable Urban Forest for the benefit of all.
Research by world-renowned institutions has shown that healthy urban forests are critical in managing local water quality, limiting reliance on fossil fuels, reducing crime and domestic violence, improving human health, and boosting economic vitality. We must recognize the science and learn how to responsibly invest in the only street infrastructure that appreciates in value.
Educating city staff, residents, and officials about proper tree care and Urban Forest benefits is another important Tree Commission role.
Positioning Parma to be competitive for Urban Forestry grant funding starts with developing a comprehensive tree care program. As a living infrastructure, our city must be able to show that we have the capacity to manage it well.
Parma has resources. The Ohio Division of Forestry offers free, professional assistance - one of the only States that provides this vital service.
Being part of Ohio’s urban forestry community will offer a strong support system for our leadership. Hopefully Parma will hire its own Urban Forester like our neighboring cities!
Parma hungers for the benefits that tree canopy provides. I encourage you to encourage our city leadership to seek assistance and begin a formal urban forestry program. We need to feel an optimism for the future and strive to offer future generations of children the gift of tree-lined streets.