Greencastle trees valued at over $2.5 million. Maple on 'paper alley' tops the list

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot
Jeremy Layman, chairman of the Greencastle Shady Tree Commission, shows a brass tag on a sycamore on East Baltimore Street. All the trees overseen by the commission were given numbers and tagged as part of an inventory.

The Greencastle Shade Tree commission has oversight of more than 650 trees valued at just over $2.5 million.

Jeremy Layman, chair of the commission, relayed the results of an inventory completed a number of months ago to his fellow borough council members at this month's meeting.

The commission, funded through the borough budget, is in charge of all the trees in the public right of way, as well as a few others planted elsewhere in town for special occasions like Arbor Day.

The Greencastle Shade Tree Commission planted two patriot elms at Greencastle-Antrim Middle School for Arbor Day 2019.

The $12,960 assessment was done to get a clear understanding of what the commission governs.

"How can you manage what you don't know you have?" Layman observed. He said the commission's goal is to "protect, preserve and grow the urban canopy."

The assessment was done by Bartlett Tree Experts, which looked at factors like the tree's height, diameter, age, condition and variety, as well as nursery price.

If all the trees went away, the $2.5 million figure is what it would cost to replace them, according to Layman.

Each tree was given a number and marked with a round brass tag so its information could be recorded and tracked. The detailed information is included in a nearly 300-page document, which can be viewed at borough hall.

Information also can be found by searching Arborscope on the borough website:

"The goal is to maintain what we have and add to it ... trees are an asset to the Borough of Greencastle," Layman said in an earlier interview.

The urban canopy has many benefits, including mental health, aesthetics, traffic control and "eco-benefits" like reducing water runoff and cooling the community.

"All the main alleys are named after trees so they've been important since early days," Layman said, citing Cedar, Elm and Pine lanes.

The shady tree commission was established by borough council in 1966. All trees in the public right of way — including streets and alleys — fall under its jurisdiction. The county's GIS mapping system was used to by the arborists to determine which trees are in the right of way.


More:Greencastle Borough Council will consider alley names Nov. 2

The most valuable tree — No. 76 — is on a "paper alley" near South Carlisle Street. The "hidden gem" on an alley that was never developed is a red maple that is 58 inches in diameter worth $46,400.

"Without the assessment, we wouldn't have known about No. 76," Layman said.

It is followed on the list by No. 490, a sugar maple off Spring Grove Avenue, valued at $37,295; and No. 410, an elm on East Baltimore Street, valued at $35,807.

The trees are the responsibility of the property owners, but the commission's permission is needed for maintenance or removal of any tree that was tagged. If someone plants a new tree in the right of way, the commission wants to know about it to add to the revolving inventory.

Permits, guidance and expertise from the shade tree commission are free.

"We're here to benefit residents today and in the future," Layman said.

"Our urban canopy is in good condition," Layman said, crediting the borough and property owners. "That speaks volumes about what's been done in the past."

Three trees — less than 1% — are in poor condition and 661 — 91% — are in good health, according to the report, which lists the top three species as Pear-Callery, 125 trees; Red-Cedar-Western, 80 trees; and Cherry-Flowering 61 trees.

The trees will continue to age, more mature trees require more maintenance and eventually trees have to be replaced, Layman said.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us. That's never going to change," Layman said.

The commission accepts monetary and tree donations. In addition, volunteers are needed to fill two vacancies on the five-member commission which meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 5 p.m. in borough hall. For additional information or to get in touch with the commission, call borough hall at 717-597-7143.