By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
---- — As the warmer weather approaches; people will begin to work in their gardens. The village of Cooperstown has similar plans as they will begin construction on their sidewalks, replace street trees and install “rain gardens."
The project includes removing the street trees on Main Street from the traffic light to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The street lamps will also be refurbished and converted for energy-saving LED lights and new sidewalks and pavers will be installed.
The resolution to remove the trees was made by the Tree Committee and the Streets and Buildings Committee.
“Removing and replacing the current street trees was a difficult decision,” said Cynthia Falk, chair of the Village Streets and Buildings Committee in a media release.
“We know that taking out the trees is not the most popular decision,” Falk said in an interview on Friday.
However, if the trees were not removed they might not be able to survive the work. The average life of a street tree is 10 years and several of the Main Street trees have lived well beyond that, Falk said.
Also, the current trees are showing signs of aging such as splits, and “construction work would cause a major disturbance to their root systems, negatively affecting their ability to thrive after the project,” Falk wrote in the media release.
The new trees will be planted below the sidewalk and will be selected to help with storm water management, Falk said in the media release.
The plan is to use a variety of species for the replacement street trees. Some of the species they are considering are Hybrid Elms, Ginkgos, Hybrid Sycamores, Honey Locust and Hawthorns.
“We are trying to find species that can handle water, salt, aren’t messy and don’t have thorns,” Falk said.
“There are a whole bunch of considerations and we’re avoiding invasive species as well,” she continued.
McManus Engineering Group of Cooperstown will be installing “rain gardens” which are sunken areas within an urban landscape that allows the rain that falls to be collected into the aquifers below, Falk said.
The purpose of these “rain gardens” is to allow the water to slowly drain into the ground instead of flooding into the streets and sidewalks, Falk said.
The timing of the project is weather dependent, but Falk said, “We hope to begin by April 1st.”
“The first phase is preparing the areas for the work that’s coming including taking trees out and lampposts down,” she continued.
McManus Engineering is currently in the process of calling all of the local businesses that will be effected by this project and they are “willing to work with business owners on any potential issues that may come up,” Falk said.
Though village officials are eager to begin working on this project, they are trying to be considerate of the needs of businesses and Cooperstown residents, Falk said.
“One of the important pieces is that we will not be working during the peak season,” Falk said.
The work will be done entirely in the spring and fall, with the hope of completing the project by December of 2014, Falk said. If the weather does not cooperate the project will be completed by the end of the 2015 calendar year.
This project is made possible because Cooperstown is the recipient of the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYSEFC).
According to the NYSEFC website, projects selected for the grant “protect and improve water quality, spur innovation in storm-water management and build capacity locally and beyond by inspiring other to build and maintain green infrastructure.”
The grant will help pay for three things, the “rain gardens," replacing the trees, and the usage of permeable pavers, which are bricks that have gaps so rainwater can fall between each of the pavers, allowing the rainwater to sink down into the soil.
“I think in the end it will be a great project,” Falk said. “It will eventually make things easier for business owners but there will be a few bumps in getting there.”
“In the end it’s going to help the environment and put Cooperstown on the map in terms of our environmental efforts,” Falk continued.
Through the use of signs placed by the “rain gardens,” Cooperstown will have the opportunity to educate people on best practices in terms of storm-water management, Falk said.