by Carolyn Crist
Gainesville's midtown greenway received much-needed shade Friday.
Landscape architects with Chattahoochee Lawn Services of Clermont planted 25 trees along the completed sections of the greenway, putting federal stimulus dollars to use.
"The primary goal for this project and all over the northern part of the state is jobs creation," said Sarah Visser, program manager for Georgia's Growing Green Program. "We're thrilled about being able to use this Clermont company because it's about getting the money into the community to help local contractors."
The program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, set aside $897,000 for tree planting and ecosystem restoration in Northeast Georgia. Cities across Georgia will use stimulus dollars to plant more than 1,600 trees.
"We love working with a community like Gainesville that has great projects and ideas," Visser said.
"This greenway is going to be a beautiful addition to the community, and it's being developed in a way to help recreation and environmental benefits at the same time."
Gainesville received $10,000 from the Growing Green program and $6,000 from the Chestatee-Chattahoochee Resource Conservation and Development Council to put the trees in place. RC&D officials hired a certified arborist with Brookwood Tree Consulting to create the greenway's site plans and determine which tree species to use.
"It's like a baby. We've watched the greenway's birth, and now it's growing," said Josh Crozier, project manager for RC&D. "The partnership has been excellent, and we really enjoy seeing how the shade benefits the community, especially kids and students."
The plan includes a mixture of shade trees, such as sugar maples and overcup oaks, and smaller ornamental trees, such as eastern redbuds and serviceberry trees. They were planted along the greenway sections between Parker and Banks streets and High Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
"We came out here Monday to decide where the trees would go and then dug the holes Wednesday and Thursday, so it's been a pretty quick process," said Jake Gailey, who put the trees in the ground Friday. He works with his parents Rick and Jan Gailey, who own Chattahoochee Lawn Services.
"Planting trees can be tricky, so you have to get a process down," he said, instructing several workers how to protect the roots while shifting dirt and watering. "This is probably one of the best crews I've worked with. We just have a quick meeting to get on the same page and get right to work."
The Gaileys are excited to be a part of the greenway construction, he said.
"Bettering one of our neighboring towns is great, and in five to 10 years this piece of land will really look good and benefit a lot of people," he said. "I'll be able to say ‘I planted these trees back then,' and it was a real team effort with the family."