Keeping our schools green has increasingly been a focus of the District and our community in recent years and will remain a priority in the future.  We have collected here a brief report on recent tree work, our arborist’s report and our planting schedule reflective of the priorities of our advisory tree committee.

In the school year of 2013-14, the District, prompted by the Board, and by parents concerned about fallen tree limbs and the aging tree stock in Pelham, embarked on a comprehensive process to examine the trees district-wide.  A rigorous selection process resulted in the hiring of arborist Mr. Carmine Serpe, ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) Certified, who examined every single tree on the Pelham schools’ campuses.  Mr. Serpe’s report recommended extensive pruning and the removal of a significant number of trees identified as presenting risks in a schools’ environment. 

Cognizant of the importance of trees to the Pelham community, the District proceeded deliberately, seeking (unsuccessfully for reasons of professional respect and liability) to ascertain a second opinion. Ultimately, the Board asked Mr. Serpe to prioritize the recommendations in his original report and outline a phased approach to tree removal over several years. 

Based on these priorities, the District began the work of pruning and removal:
  • Overgrown areas presenting security risks were addressed,
  • 66 trees were removed in the summer of 2014,
  • 27 trees were identified for removal in the summer of 2015, and
  • 22 trees were identified for removal in the spring of 2016.

Simultaneously, the District pledged to plant a new tree for every tree that had to be removed, and began to replace trees, planting 33 last spring and summer, ordering 38 trees this spring, and scheduling an additional 52 trees for fall 2015.

Shade Tree Committee
Community interest around green space and planting trees led the District to form an advisory tree replanting committee that has come to be known as the Shade Tree Committee.  The expertise and commitment to the preservation of Pelham’s historical landscape and future environment demonstrated by the members of this group is remarkable and very much appreciated by the larger Pelham community.  Co-chaired by Mr. Angelo Rubbo, Assistant Superintendent for Business, and Ms. Lisa Kiernan, liaison to the Board of Education, the Shade Tree Advisory Committee brought together Mr. Anthony Mandile, Director of Facilities, Mr. Joe Mikulewicz, Head Groundsman, Ms. Shana Clarke, PTAC, Ms. Aimee Kaplan, Pelham Preservation and Garden Society, Ms. Fiona Watt, PTA, Ms. Susan Mutti, Village of Pelham and Mr. Christian Privat, Eco-Pel. 

Meeting regularly over the past academic year, the committee quickly agreed on shared values including the emphasis on shade trees rather than ornamentals, the selection of native species and the planting of higher caliper trees.  The committee also agreed that in order to develop a thoughtful, long-range planting plan, the professional expertise of Mr. Scott Hughes, the District Landscape Architect, was required.  Mr. Hughes completed a thorough analysis of opportunities for replanting at every District location and brought a plan with specific recommendations to the committee.  This planting plan was further modified by the committee to be certain that the selection of trees was in keeping with the agreed-upon priorities.  

The District then proceeded to order 38 trees for planting this spring and another 52 scheduled to be planted in the fall and will continue to fulfill the commitment to replace any tree that is removed.  Additionally, at the suggestion of the Board, the budget for 2015-16 includes additional funds earmarked for support of ongoing tree maintenance and planting.