Pride will blossom in Secaucus this spring through efforts like the Shade Tree program, Arbor Day school ceremonies, and Project Pride that help keep the town green with the planting of flowers and trees.
“I lived here all my life, and I do take pride in living here and hope the town continues to be like it was when I was a child growing up,” said Councilman James Clancy. He serves as the liaison to the Shade Tree Committee, and he initiated Project Pride in 1986 with the help of the Girl Scouts.
“Girl Scouts always try to leave things better than they were,” said Judy Jaeger. She is the Brownies Troop 12251 leader and the Service Unit Manager for the neighborhood.
Girl Scouts’ honor: make the world a better place
Close to 60 Girl Scouts will plant begonias, marigolds, and other types of flowers in planters throughout the center of town on May 12. The group is representative of the entire service unit and will include girls from the Brownies, Juniors, Cadets, and Ambassadors.
The effort to beautify the town is part of Project Pride, which was initiated by Clancy in 1986 when he took office.
“Girl Scouts always try to leave things better than they were.” – Judy Jaeger
The program lasted eight years until 1993 during the time Clancy served. The Department of Public Works then took on the effort and even grew flowers from a greenhouse at the top of the Elms building, but did not involve the Girl Scouts. When Clancy returned to the council in 2010, he brought back the full-fledged program and included the local troops.
“They just love it,” said Jaeger. “It is important for the girls to give back to the community, but also take pride for what they’ve done.”
Jaeger said that the Girl Scouts enjoy seeing the flowers grow and continue to take care of them throughout the year. The girls get a patch for their sash as part of their involvement. The Girl Scouts celebrates its centennial year, and Project Pride is one of many activities the troops will take part in during this special year.
“I think it is wonderful that they brought it back,” said Jaeger. She said that because of the program “the [girls] have a greater appreciation of the town.”
Offering more than shade
“Trees make a difference,” said Clancy. The mayor and town council just recently kicked off the Shade Tree program, which allows residents to replace or add a tree on their curbsides for a fee of $200. In addition to providing shade to homes, Clancy said that trees help beautify the town and “keep the suburban feel.”
Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of a home create shade from the sun and can reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent, according to the National Arbor Foundation. In addition to shade, trees help combat climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the trees and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.
But for Clancy, the trees also help prevent cement from taking over the curbs throughout town.
“The goal is to preserve the trees that are here in town and to make sure that people don’t cut them down and put concrete in their place.”
He urges residents to take pride in their lawns, clean them up, and plant flowers and trees. Clancy hopes residents will purchase a tree or donate toward the planting of a tree.
“If someone has a tree in front of their house, they can’t cut it down unless it is inspected by the town,” said Clancy. He said that some residents have wanted to cut down trees down because roots lifted the sidewalk or interfered with the water lines of a sprinkler system.
The Department of Public Works will plant trees that won’t tear up the sidewalk like maples, oaks, flowering plum trees, and October glories, among other varieties.
Last year the D.P.W. planted over 100 trees. The town recently planted trees donated by the Meadowlands Commission in the new Meditation Garden behind the Recreation Center. While the town has planted trees in the past with funding from the Department of Transportation, this year they seek help from businesses in the form of donations to help with the purchase of trees. They have 11 companies thus far that have made a commitment.
Arbor Day seedlings
Trees and flowers blossom beyond town center and residential curbs and on to school grounds. Students from the entire school district on April 27 participated in Arbor Day. The local celebration is in its 18th year. In recognition of the day, middle and high school students will plant River Birch trees by the entrance to the high school, Cherry Trees near the tennis courts, and a state Oak tree by the school monument. In addition, every kindergartener in the school district will receive a seedling to plant, one hundred in all.
“It is important for the children to understand the importance of taking care of the environment,” said Dr. Robert Berckes, high school principal. He said that children take care of the plants and trees and that the practice leads to lifelong habits of nurturing the environment.
In addition to music from school choirs and the middle and high school band, students will receive awards for their poetry and posters. Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Randina read a proclamation for Arbor Day.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.