NORWALK, Conn. — Workers spruced up Wilton Avenue by planting 18 trees Wednesday, all funded by a grant obtained by the Norwalk Health Department.
The goal isn’t just to plant trees but to create community because people are more likely to walk down tree-lined streets, Director of Transportation, Mobility, and Parking James Travers said. More walkers inspire drivers to slow down.
“I’m already liking it,” said a young resident of the neighborhood, Eddie Zapata.
Among the 18 trees planted on the eastern side of Wilton Avenue, between Catherine Street and Horton Street, are three versions of six varieties, including American Elms, Pin Oaks, Sweetgums and Red Maples, according to Travers.
“While we will have someone come by and water the trees periodically, it would be extremely helpful if you could assist in watering the tree in front of your home,” Travers said in a letter to residents.
Travers and Assistant Director for Transportation Services Garrett Bolella were hired in January. According to Travers, the pair took a tour in February and stopped their car in the middle of Wilton Avenue, asking what was going on.
“We knew that we wanted to do this all along,” Travers said.
The first grant application wasn’t successful, but TMP worked with the Health Department to write the second grant and not only was the grant awarded, but Norwalk was invited to apply again next year, according to Travers.
It’s funding for environmental changes that encourage physical activity, Assistant Director of Health for Community Health Theresa Argondezzi said.
“We encourage everybody to walk in the city, but a lot of times it has to do with the environment they’re walking in – do they feel safe, is it a pleasant place to walk? So we think that adding street trees will encourage more people to get out, walk around their community, feel safer and have a more pleasant community to walk in as well,” she said. “So in addition to showing people where to walk and encourage them to walk we want to make sure that the streets are pleasant and safe for them to walk on.”
Travers said next year’s request will be “more aggressive” and seek to “finish the street” with low growing trees on the other side, the goal being to create a canopy.
“These trees are being planted as part of an effort to increase the tree canopy in Norwalk,” Travers said in the letter to residents. “There is a growing need to increase the green cover, especially near our homes. The first step to contributing to sustainable living is to give something back to the environment. Planting more trees around our homes will improve the air quality by purifying the air. We all know that trees are vitally important and the City is committed to increasing the number of trees that we plant.”