BRATTLEBORO -- Though she can't put her finger on the exact figure, Helene Henry estimates the Brattleboro Tree Advisory Board has planted about 300 trees over the past 30 years.
And as of Saturday, whatever the actual number was increased by three. Volunteers spent the morning installing a trio of acer rubrum, or red maple trees sometimes called "October Glory," in a grass lot across the way from the Sportsman's Lounge on Canal Street. It was part of the tree advisory board's mission to beautify Brattleboro one plant at a time.
"This is a dense neighborhood. People need a little green space to get out and do something," Henry said under the nearly cloudless sky. "It's a win-win for everybody. We're making it a place -- instead of just an empty lot."
The relatives of the property's former owners donated the money for the trees and one of them - Tom Parmenter, of West Brattleboro - visited the site with his daughter Saturday to see the advisory board in action. Parmenter said his grandmother and aunt lived in the white house that once stood on the lot and he decided to lobby his relatives to finance the trees after seeing Henry's photograph in the Reformer and learning of the advisory board's efforts.
"I said, ‘Wouldn't it be nice if we donated money for the trees?' and they thought it would be," he said. The advisory board does not receive any funding from the town and is run entirely on donations.
Henry said the entire board was amazed and touched by the generosity.
Volunteer participants dug holes in the earth and then moved the fully-bloomed trees into them before filling the holes with dirt. Many of the red leaves were jostled off during the planting process but are sure to grow back in the spring.
The property's current owner, Andrew Shapiro, said he purchased the land three years ago from the woman who owned it after Parmenter's family and did so for its parking spaces, as he owns other property nearby. Shapiro, who works in construction, said it took three weeks to tear down the white house and the planting of trees is just one more step in the beautification of the lot.
"Every little bit helps and this is a good one," he said. "I'm just enjoying the benefits of a good deed and I think everyone should appreciate it."
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow Domenic on Twitter @dpoli_reformer