Friday, March 8, 2013

Durham Celebrates Arbor Day with Tree Planting March 22

Thirty years is a long time, even for trees.  Durham is enjoying a special honor coming up is again being named as "Tree City USA."


For the 30th year.

In a row.

To celebrate, a tree planting and seedling giveaway in the newly landscaped Black Wall Street Plaza will commemorate the City of Durham’s annual Arbor Day celebration, where Durham will be recognized.

The free event is set for Friday, March 22, 2013, at 11 a.m. in the Black Wall Street Plaza, which is bounded by Orange Street, Mangum Street and Parrish Street in downtown Durham. This year’s event is sponsored by the City of Durham’s General Services Department and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development as well as Keep Durham Beautiful, Inc.

During this event, City officials will receive the 30th consecutive “Tree City USA” designation from a representative with the N.C. Forest Service at the newly built pergola, followed by a ceremonial tree planting in the plaza. Event attendees will also be treated to a performance by the Morehead Montessori Children’s Choir, who will perform a special selection in honor of this occasion. Attendees will also be able to visit event sponsor tables and receive a free tree seedling, where once planted, they can then take a photo of the newly planted tree and redeem it for special discounts at sponsor businesses.

According to Alex Johnson, manager of the Urban Forestry Division in the City’s General Services Department, this year’s event is designed to help residents celebrate trees in urban environments and encourage them to plant and care for trees in their own yards and neighborhoods. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of trees in urban areas since they buffer noise, create cool and inviting spaces, reduce energy use, clean air, remove carbon, and produce oxygen.” Johnson said. “Trees also reduce erosion and runoff. Compared with other elements of infrastructure, trees increase in value over time, repaying their modest cost of installation many times over through the environmental services they provide.”

Work is now underway on the new Black Wall Street Plaza where the City’s General Services Department is planting new trees and building a new pergola to be completed in time for the Arbor Day Celebration later this month. The landscaping work in this plaza is the second phase of the Parrish Street Project and is being funded with $40,500 remaining from a grant received by the City's Office of Economic and Workforce Development from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with assistance from U.S. Representative David E. Price. The first phase of the Parrish Street Project was completed in 2009 with the installation of six historical markers commemorating the rich history of Parrish Street. Part of the landscaping project in the Black Wall Street Plaza is also being supported by a $10,000 donation from BP and Family Fare.

According to Tania Dautlick, executive director of Keep Durham Beautiful, green space also has an economic impact for surrounding businesses. “Keep America Beautiful reports that the value of properties in proximity to trees or within a quarter mile of a park can be as much as 10 percent higher,” Dautlick said. “Trees in business districts also report higher revenue than treeless areas because consumers prefer visiting green retail and business locations. ‘Views of green’ have even been shown to improve employee satisfaction and productivity for businesses. Since the Black Wall Street Plaza is in the heart of the revitalized Parrish Street, the impact of this newly landscaped green space should have a positive impact on these businesses as well.”

For more information about Durham’s Arbor Day celebration, contact Johnson at (919) 560-4197, ext. 21275 or by email at

About the General Services Department
The City of Durham’s General Services Department creates, manages and maintains city properties to provide best value to the Durham community. The core business functions include: Administration/Business Services, Facility Operations, Landscape Services, Urban Forestry, Real Estate, Construction Project Management, Cemeteries, Keep Durham Beautiful, and Deferred Maintenance. As guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, General Services serves as a steward of the City’s physical assets. Through annual and long-range facility planning activities, the department plans, provides, and maintains the City’s facilities infrastructure, which supports the community’s quality of life and serves as a foundation of a healthy economy. For more information, visit

About the Office of Economic & Workforce Development
Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the Office of Economic & Workforce Development helps ensure that Durham has a strong and diverse economy by increasing the city’s tax base through several revitalization initiatives, including new development efforts in the central city area. The department also plans and promotes cultural awareness and events, identifies and recruits target industries as well as assesses and trains Durham residents to fill new jobs. For more information, visit, “like” on Facebook, or “follow” on Twitter.

About Keep Durham Beautiful, Inc.
Keep Durham Beautiful, Inc. is a nonprofit, volunteer organization working in partnership with the City of Durham’s General Services Department and the County of Durham to encourage private businesses, residents, and community organizations to conserve and enhance the appearance and environment of Durham through cleanup events, beautification projects, and educational activities. For more information, visit, “like” on Facebook, or “follow” on Twitter.

About the Parrish Street Project
The Parrish Street Project is an initiative of the Durham City Council to commemorate the nationally significant history of Parrish Street, also known as “Black Wall Street,” and spur economic revitalization for this downtown Durham corridor. This initiative is being coordinated by the City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the Parrish Street Advocacy Group, and a group of Durham leaders, activists, businesses, and residents representing some of the most influential organizations and interests in the Bull City. Together they are engaged in a mission to attract new investment and pursue national heritage area status from the United States Congress. To learn more, visit

For more information about events in Durham, visit The Durham Event Calendar.

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