Some new trees grow in Ca­tonsville

Com­mu­nity unites to plant re­place­ments af­ter sum­mer van­dal­ism

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By John-John Wil­liams IV

Dozens of peo­ple shov­eled heaps of soil atop the bases of the freshly planted flow­er­ing cherry trees Satur­day morn­ing at a me­dian along Ed­mond­son Av­enue in Ca­tonsville. The sound of metal shov­els clank­ing against rock pierced the crisp au­tumn air.

A teen car­ried a mound of mulch in a red wheel­bar­rel to an­other part of the me­dian. A mid­dle-aged man car­ried as­sorted seedlings in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. Var­i­ous groups of Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and other stu­dents com­plet­ing ser­vice hours worked fever­ishly to re­place more trees and veg­e­ta­tion dam­aged and de­stroyed in a slew of van­dal­ism in­ci­dents this sum­mer.

“It’s a won­der­ful feel­ing when you get a lot of fo­cused peo­ple to­gether you can get a lot done. That’s what com­mu­nity does,” said David Stan­ton, who has lived in Ca­tonsville for the past 26 years. “This is our ef­fort.”

About half of the 32 Kwan­zan cherry trees planted by the non­profit Ca­tonsville Tree Canopy Project were de­stroyed in July. Bal­ti­more County po­lice have no sus­pects in what they be­lieve was a de­lib­er­ate act.

Ca­tonsville Tree Canopy Project vol­un­teers plan to plant and main­tain 1,000 trees in the Ca­tonsville com­mu­nity by 2020. The group has planted more than 800 trees, ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s leader, Jim Himel.

“I don’t have a good an­swer,” Stan­ton said in ref­er­ence to thwart­ing at­tacks. “All it takes is for one per­son with a bad at­ti­tude and a plan in the mid­dle of the night. There’s not a lot you can do about that.”

Eric Eber­sole, a state del­e­gate who rep­re­sents south­west Bal­ti­more, lives around the cor­ner from the planted trees.

“It’s heart­en­ing to know that so many peo­ple want to do some­thing to make this a bet­ter place,” he said.

The day’s ef­forts were made in part from money by Green Grants, a pro­gram funded by BGE that has pro­vided $1.6 mil­lion to cen­tral Mary­land en­vi­ron­men­tal ef­forts the past four years, ac­cord­ing to Aaron D. Koos, a spokesman for BGE. About $20,000 has gone to­ward the ef­forts in Ca­tonsville over the past two years, Koos said.

Home De­pot also do­nated 600 bags of mulch, ac­cord­ing to Himel.

“Neigh­bor­hood is what this is all about,” said Himel, who has lived in Ca­tonsville for the past 25 years. He spent most of the day trans­port­ing trees and seedlings. “The sig­nif­i­cance here is huge.”

Koos, who also lives in Ca­tonsville, was as­sist­ing with his two sons, Nate, 9, and Ben, 16.

“I think it will help the en­vi­ron­ment,” Nate said as he took a break from shov­el­ing dirt. “If some­one [de­stroyed these plants] I would feel dis­ap­pointed and an­noyed. We spent a lot of time plant­ing these trees.”

Koos said he was proud of his chil­dren and their “con­nect­ed­ness to the com­mu­nity.” He added: “They know they are hav­ing a long-last­ing ef­fect on the com­mu­nity.

“It’s just what we do,” Koos said. “This is the com­mu­nity in Ca­tonsville.”

Hun­dreds of vol­un­teers lined the area—a half-mile stretch from Win­ters Lane west to Mid­vale—which was closed to traf­fic. Vol­un­teers came on foot car­ry­ing rakes and shov­els. Some pushed wheel­bar­rels. Oth­ers wore gar­den­ing gloves.

“I think we’re good here,” said vol­un­teer Chris Burk, as he pounded the newly laid soil and mulch with his feet. He later smoothed the dirt with the bot­tom of his shovel. “I was heart­bro­ken when the trees were de­stroyed. This is all pos­si­ble be­cause of the ef­fort by this com­mu­nity.”

Jackie Wal­lace and her daugh­ter, Natalie, just fin­ished plant­ing a tree. They looked sat­is­fied as they walked back home.

“We came out to help the com­mu­nity and show a lit­tle com­mu­nity spirit,” Wal­lace said. “I’m ex­cited and happy to see so many peo­ple.”

Sarah An­gerer, leader of Girl Scout Ju­nior Troop 1640 from Ca­tonsville United Methodist Church, brought a half-dozen troop mem­bers to help. The girls chose to use the op­por­tu­nity for their ser­vice project.

“I’m glad the ones who showed up, showed up,” she said.

Bernie Mosher, a Ca­tonsville res­i­dent for the past 20 years, said her 11-year-old daugh­ter, Tori, vol­un­teered as part of the troop.

“It’s a feel­ing of work­ing to­gether to ac­com­plish some­thing,” Mosher said. “We talked about what hap­pened. We talked about how im­por­tant trees are. It’s a big deal.”

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