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Communities join in on Brentwood tree-planting

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:54 p.m.
South Hills Record
More than 30 volunteers from Baldwin Borough, Brentwood, Whitehall and other neighboring communities planted 25 trees at Brentwood Park on Nov. 10. The trees were part of a grant received by Economic Development South from TreeVitalize and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. Laura Van Wert | South Hills Record

Establishing a partnership between green thumb volunteers in several South Hills communities is just as important to them as the trees they plant.

“We have to stand together,” said Jonathan Turban, chairman of a multi-municipal shade tree commission, established through Economic Development South. “Trees are definitely important ... the urban forest is starting to get pretty bare.”

More than 30 volunteers from Brentwood, Baldwin Borough, Whitehall and other neighboring communities planted 25 trees on Nov. 10 in Brentwood Park as part of a grant received through Economic Development South from TreeVitalize and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Economic Development South is a nonprofit organization working to boost community growth in Baldwin Borough, Brentwood, Whitehall and the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook.

The grant is the first for TreeVitalize to include multiple municipalities.

“It's these kinds of things that makes the community better,” said Greg Jones, director of Economic Development South.

Jones said he hopes the group can receive another grant in the spring to plant trees in Whitehall. One of Jones' main goals for the project is to develop a network of volunteers in the EDS communities.

Kentucky Coffeetrees and Princeton American Elms are just some of the species newly planted in Brentwood Park near the parking lot and on the hillside near the baseball fields.

Volunteers planting the trees said they did so to aid in the beautification of Brentwood Park, to establish more pride in each EDS municipality and to build stronger ties between the neighboring communities.

“It's bringing back the neighborhoods,” said Susan Simmers, a Baldwin Township resident.

Likewise, Brentwood Park is scheduled to begin the first two phases of a multi-phase $8 million renovation in 2013. The TreeVitalize grant, though separate from the park renovation, is a nice way to kick it off, said Frank Cappetta, a Brentwood Park Initiative director.

The BPI is a nonprofit organization formed by Brentwood residents to raise money for the park refurbishment.

Several of the volunteers on Saturday are BPI members.

“This is a nice first step,” Cappetta said. “This isn't just a Brentwood planting.”

Other volunteers said they remember when previous park renovations caused the demolition of trees, so it's nice to be a part of the rebuilding.

“I want to watch it grow as my kids do,” said Jamie Kephart, a Brentwood resident. “It's just a good way to give back, beautify.”

Teegan McDonough, community outreach assistant at TreeVitalize, helped the volunteers plant the trees last Saturday. She said that TreeVitalize will help more than 30 communities in the Pittsburgh area plant trees from Oct. 19 to Dec. 1.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at lvanwert@tribweb.com.

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