Utica has received a $2 million federal grant that could spawn a new nickname for the city: U-tree-ca.

The money will go toward purchasing beech, oak, maple and poplar trees to fill parks and street lines in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Utica.

Another $338,000 grant will go to the City of Olmsted of Greater Utica, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve parks and neighborhoods designed by landscape architect Frederick Olmsted Jr. and the Olmsted Brothers Company in the early 1900s.

“Utica get out your gardening gloves and dust off your shovels because more than $2.3 million in federal funding is on the way to plant thousands of new trees across the city and plant a brighter future for the community,” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-Md. -New York, in a statement announcing the funding. “For too long, Utica residents have been left in the shade, with parks and neighborhoods lacking the lush trees that families love.”

The money will benefit the city’s Utica Urban Forest Revitalization Project to address “severe inequity and disproportionate loss of tree canopy within Utica’s highly disadvantaged neighborhoods, including Cornhill,” Mayor Robert Palmieri said in the release.

The City of Olmsted will use the grant money to continue its work to improve and restore FT Proctor Park where it has already invested $270,000 in donations and 1,600 volunteer hours since 2022, Chief Philip Bean said.

“During this time, we planted 2,300 perennials and restored historic landscapes, particularly Olmsted’s beloved ‘Lily Pond,’” he said in a statement. “Established from 1912 to 1914 as an oasis for the underserved in Utica, F.T. Proctor Park continues to benefit the underserved in this richly diverse community.”

The grants come from the USDA’s Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program. He said Schumer helped secure funding for the $1 billion national program and called for some of that money to be directed to Utica.

“Trees help address flooding, shade and climate issues, and provide beautification to our neighborhoods,” said Marquis Phillips, Utica Codes Commissioner and director of city initiatives. “Unhealthy trees can pose a safety hazard as limbs and trunks can fall and cause significant damage. Very large trees can grow into sewers, foundations and electrical wires.

Previous tree planting: That’s why 15 trees were recently planted throughout the city of Utica

Now city and federal officials must develop a plan, in consultation with consulting arborists, property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders, to know what trees need to be removed, what work needs to be done, and what trees need to be planted to give these areas a safe, beautiful, and healthy environment. Tree canopy said.

The city already passed a tree ordinance earlier this year to provide a framework to ensure the city’s tree canopy grows and stays healthy in a way that is biodiverse, sustainable, equitable and beautiful.

The 2019 tree inventory, the first of its kind in the city, found 10,915 trees located in city rights-of-way. TR and FT Proctor Parks have another 3,084 trees, according to GreenUtica, the Utica Parks Conservancy.

The most common trees in Utica are Norway maple, sugar maple, and black cherry, according to GreenUtica, but city parks also contain American basswood, American beech, American elm, hickory, black locust, elderwood, eastern hemlock, and ironwood, and northern catulpa. Pin oak, red maple, silver maple, white ash and yellow birch.

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