The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) has one primary goal: to improve the community and business district. One way it’s working to meet this goal is by planting more than 500 trees in the borough.
This past Saturday, 77 new trees were planted along the Penn Avenue commercial corridor in Wilkinsburg. It was the fourth planting since the effort began, with a total of 109 trees in the business district, and the rest in Wilkinsburg’s residential neighborhoods.
“There’s one more planting to finish it up, but we’ve finally gotten to that point where we have a nice set of new street trees all though the business district,” says WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans.
Officially known as the Wilkinsburg TreeVitalize Project: Rooted in Wilkinsburg – 500 Tree Initiative
, the effort is a partnership between WCDC, TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, the Borough of Wilkinsburg, and the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association.
The tree plantings are funded by a grant from PennVEST, a state agency whose primary purpose in the initiative is to address stormwater runoff.
And while addressing stormwater is also a priority for the partners in Wilkinsburg, street trees have numerous benefits to the community beyond affecting water quality.
“It’s important because we have 27,000 cars a day drive down Penn Avenue,” Evans says. As her organization works to bring businesses into vacant storefronts, street trees are part of a vibrant streetscape that will help attract those new tenants.
Types of trees include elm, gingko, hackberry, honey locust, Kentucky coffeetree, Japanese tree lilac, and maple.
WCDC began as an all-volunteer organization in 2007, and a fulltime staff was hired in 2010. In the past two years the organization has implemented other streetscape improvement projects including new borough banners in the commercial district, fixed lamp posts, and purchased trash receptacles.
Additionally, WCDC has marketed 40 commercial properties and helped to fill several vacant storefronts with new businesses.
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Tracey Evans