The Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy has been busy finding ways to make Newburgh greener. Although they have only been active for a little over a year now, they have hit the ground running with helping restore Newburgh’s tree canopy.
More recently, they applied for and was awarded a grant from the New York State Department of Conservation Urban Forestry Council program in the amount of $1,000. This grant is for the planting of a large tree this fall on Liberty Street, near the intersection of First Street.
“This will become a large signature specimen tree,” said Kathy Lawrence, Board Chair of Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy. “And it’s on a historically significant and under resourced block of Liberty.”
The Conservancy is donating this tree to the City of Newburgh in an effort to improve the health of the air, water and soil in the area. It will provide shade and mitigate the Urban Heat Island effect in the city. The Urban Heat Island effect is when urbanized areas experience higher temperatures because buildings and structures absorb and re-emit heat more than rural areas might.
“There is no shade, it’s all urban and concrete,” said Lawrence. “The heat radiates. Trees provide really important shade and other environmental benefits.”
The donation includes the tree and its delivery, topsoil, mulch, a watering bag and the time of the volunteers needed to plant it. It will be planted in the next two weeks.
Lawrence also pointed out the community stewardship that can come with planting trees. Within the first year of planting, they need a lot of care, and so they are planning to work closely with the residents and neighbors who have trees planted in their neighborhood.
“We are only planting in sites where the neighbors are fully aware of and supportive of and actively want to have a tree,” said Lawrence.
There will be a 60 to 90 minute training for community members to learn about planting, watering and taking care of the trees.
This tree is just one of the donations that the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy is planting this fall. There are eight to ten other trees that will also be planted on Liberty Street.
The Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy has been working closely with the City’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) and Department of Small Interventions to restore and increase the tree canopy in Newburgh.
“Four thousand trees that used to exist do not anymore,” said Lawrence about the City of Newburgh’s greenery. “And there are blocks that never had trees to begin with that really need them.”
They also work closely with Scenic Hudson, Habitat for Humanity, Broadway River District Neighborhood Association to plan tree planting for next spring.
On top of helping plant more trees in the City, they are selling Jetfire mini daffodil bulbs for the community to plant before the winter for the first annual “Newburgh Blooms Festival.” It is an effort to encourage sponsorships and get people to plant “a little bit of hope in the ground.”
“Next spring we will have signs of life, hope and community collaboration popping up at the same time, in the same color, all over the city,” said Lawrence. “Especially during COVID, it’s important for folks to be in touch with nature and something really positive and hopeful. After this long year and what will be obviously a long, hard winter, we want people to see signs of community togetherness.”
People can get involved by buying bulbs to plant in their own space or they can donate bulbs for underserved neighborhoods. One bag of bulbs is $10. Pickup for the bulbs will be at Safe Harbors Green Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on November 7, 14 and 21.
If any businesses are interested in sponsoring a neighborhood, block or street corner, they also can do so.
In addition to planting more trees and plants around Newburgh, the Conservancy hopes to raise awareness and funds to help create productive collaborations across the City to get to a point where they can help not only maintain the parks already here but make them more inviting, welcoming and safe. They also hope to increase access in areas where there isn’t enough calm green space around.
They are working closely with Downing Park and its committee as well, especially to get new signage to “make the park more welcoming” so that everyone can understand and feel the park is for them.
Because the Conservancy is still new, they are building their board of directors. If you are interested in working with the Greater Newburgh Parks Conservancy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to create a board of directors that really begins to reflect the racial and ethnic diversity in the City of Newburgh,” said Lawrence.