By Elaine Springer
There was a time not too long ago that people entering the south end of the Village of Trumansburg on Rt. 96 were greeted with a cheerful canopy of Cottonwood trees planted along the side of the Trumansburg Fairgrounds. These Cottonwood trees provided shade along the Fairgrounds and the road and were a beloved sight to residents and visitors alike, and it was outrage heard around social media when the trees were abruptly removed.
Cottonwood trees are a blessing and a curse. The blessing is they can grow up to 6 feet a year potentially reaching nearly 200 feet in height with branches reaching up to 75 feet across. Although Cottonwood trees are lovely to look at and provide tremendous shade, they are also problematic. Fast growth makes them weak and susceptible to branch and truck breakage, which was the case at the Trumansburg Fairgrounds. In the fall of 2017, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) deemed them too dangerous and removing the trees as well as the fencing surrounding the Fairgrounds along the road.
The Fair Board managed to have the fence replaced but there are gaping holes in the once scenic landscape entering the Village. The question of what to plant to replace it remained a mystery, as plantings are costly and many plants are subject to being eaten by the prolific deer population. This is where the Trumansburg Rotary has stepped in to fill the void.
The Trumansburg Rotary is perhaps one of the most active community groups in Trumansburg. The club was formed in 1927 and “supports educational works that benefit community members, including students in local schools (focused on the Trumansburg, South Seneca, Newfield, and Enfield schools), the arts, and local libraries.” They hold numerous fundraisers per year to support Trumansburg school programs, the Trumansburg Food Pantry, youth exchange scholarships, and the Christmas Bureau, to name a few.
They have also implemented a public lecture series on topics such as a pictorial history of the village, rebuilding Puerto Rico, the history of Cayuga Lake water levels, and proposed zoning changes. There are two lectures in September; on Sept. 13 Cornell Water Plant Manager Christopher Padilla will present “A water project in Honduras”, and on Sept. 27 Rotarians Zoren Bullock, Shelly Bullock, and Tom Overbaugh will report on their Rotary-focused visit to Tanzania. The lectures take place during the regular Rotary dinner meetings on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Trumansburg American Legion.
In addition to the fundraisers and public lecture series, the club has started a local small-grants program. Grants in the amount of $1,000 or less are awarded in categories such as youth, education, arts, health, development, and international understanding. Previous grants have been awarded to the Trumansburg school for high school and middle school robotics, the after-prom party, for the purchase of binoculars for nature study, and for the hoop house at the middle school, as well as to the Ovid library for chair yoga for the elderly. The fall grant cycle is happening now and the club is accepting applications until Oct. 2, although they stress that getting the application in early is best. The grant application, guidelines, and cover letter can be found on their website.
With all that the Trumansburg Rotary Club does to support the Trumansburg community, it is easy to see how they would find reforesting the fairgrounds a worthy project. As Trumansburg Rotary Public Relations representative Peggy Haine said, residents and visitors to the village deserve a “warm welcome to Trumansburg.”
The Trumansburg Rotary has taken the lead of the two-phase planting project. Phase one is nearly complete and included raising funds for new plantings and learning what plantings will be suitable for that area. Phase two will include cleaning up the brush that was left behind by the DOT and a community planting. Of the project, Haine reports, “We’ve received grants from the Trumansburg Rotary Club and from Rotary District 7170 to plant spring-blooming understory trees — Cornelian cherries, crabapples, and redbuds — under the remaining tall trees along the fairgrounds fence, and a few north of the fairgrounds entrance.” She goes on to say, “We’ve had wonderful advice and down-in-the-dirt help from landscape architect John Ullberg, landscaper and tree specialist Dave Allen, and arborist Andy Hillman, and enthusiastic encouragement from Karen Powers of Takin’ Care of T’burg. Jerry Reynolds of the fair board has been very helpful. John Ullberg is developing a planting plan, we’ll order the trees this winter, and are planning a community tree planting celebration around Arbor Day weekend in April. Bring your shovels!”
You can learn more about the Trumansburg Rotary on their website, portal.clubrunner.ca/3583/.
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