By BETH ALTENA
The City of Rockford has just received approval of their designation as a National Arbor Day Tree City and will celebrate with a gift of a tree in their honor to newborns who reside within city limits.
“We have always had a tree planting program where residents pay half the price and the City pays the other half. We thought this would be a nice way to welcome a new resident to the City,” said City Manager Michael Young. Rockford has spent the past year deciding whether to try for a National Arbor Day Foundation designation as a National Tree City. When Council looked at the requirements specified by the organization, they realized Rockford was already fulfilling the majority of them.
City residents who have had a new baby in 2010 are invited to call the city to have a free tree delivered and planted, either on their property or in the parkway. Residents who have not had a newborn in 2010 can still participate in the parkway tree program and split the difference of a new tree with the City.
“I think it is nice to recognize the longstanding emphasis Rockford has placed on the value of trees,” said Young. “It isn’t just this past year, we really haven’t changed how we handle trees. We recognize they are important.”
Young said the trees will be a hardwood and the City usually buys maples or oaks. The free trees will be smaller than the ones offered by the parkway tree program, but still be a nice size. Young said the City has offered the service for decades and has planted thousands of trees. He said the tree planting program was started by Judge Steve Servaas, who was emphatic about the value of trees to a community.