Arbor Day Returns As Girl Scouts Are First To Donate A Tree Under Belmont’s New Planting Program

Photo: Girl Scout Troop 802027 hard at work planting its dogwood at PQ Park

The shovels were brought, soil and mulch was delivered, and a kousa dogwood tree was placed into the ground close to the playground at PQ Park. Everything was in place on Friday, April 29 for Belmont to celebrate Arbor Day for the first time in two years by adding a decorative tree to the town’s inventory.

For Lucia Gates, chair of Belmont’s Shade Tree Committee, the ceremony was extra special for two reasons: Girl Scouts from Troop 802027 – made up of girls from Belmont, Cambridge and Boston – would be doing the honors of planting the tree, which, itself, was memorable for being the first under the town’s new program for accepting gifts of trees.

“It’s great to see these scouts have this chance to provide the park with a living memory of this day,” said Gates who was a Girl Scout since age 7 in her hometown of Houston, Texas, and led her daughter’s troop at the Butler Elementary school.

The troop is the first to donate a tree under the town’s new streamlined commemorative shade tree planting program initiated by Jay Marcotte, Department of Public Works director and town Tree Warden and Gates’ committee. Approved by the Select Board on March 21, the program gives individuals, business and community groups the opportunity to donate funds to purchase and plant a public shade tree.

A donation of $500 will pay for a tree – which the Tree Warden will help each contributor select “the right tree planted at the right place” for the best chance of survival – to be placed and maintained by the Public Works. And the troop will be the first to be recognized on a new commemorative plaque which will be located in Town Hall and noted online.

At PQ, each scout recited a line from an Arbor Day poem, Marcotte read a proclamation from the Select Board, the soil and mulch was expertly put in their place and everyone in attendance was given Girl Scout cookies – Lemonades – for coming.

“So watch this tree your whole life,” said Gates. “And maybe when you grow up, you’ll bring friends and it will be part of you forever.”

Front Row, left to right: Julia Danahy, Mabel Fanning, Madeleine Palmer, Ruby Garver, Julia Spitznagel, Rosalind Oppenheim
Back Row, left to right: Penelope Fok, Fiona Zimkus, Julia Sen, Funmilayo Folorunso, Ellie Dubois, Elizabeth Tung
Lucia Gates and Michael Chesson of the Belmont Shade Tree Committee with Jay Marcotte (right), director, Belmont Department of Public Works