Whether you side with Joyce Kilmer, who doubted he'd ever see "a poem lovely as a tree" or Ogden Nash, who skewered his words with "no billboard lovely as a tree," it's hard to argue that anything beats a tree for improving a street. So it's with a big, poetic sigh of relief that we enjoy the white blossoms of 17 flowering pear trees the state installed alongside its office buildings on Capitol Avenue.
According to Kevin Dempsey, executive assistant at the state Department of Public Works, a subcontractor got a bit carried away salting the sidewalks there two winters ago and killed an entire row of crabapples. The state canned the contractor but, happily, decided to give the trees another chance. The state put the job out to bid and hired the Knox Parks Foundation to replant the small grated gardens on the strip of sidewalk that runs along Capitol between Babcock and Columbia streets.
In September, through its AmeriCorps Program, Knox employed 21 of the city's young people (ages 17 to 24) to remove the dead stumps, prepare the tree wells and plant the 12-foot-tall aristocrat pears. The kids, who are not currently attending school, get credit toward a goal of 900 community service hours which, if completed successfully, earns them up to $2,400 toward college or GED training.
It's a good deal all around. Now, if the state could just turn a similarly enlightened eye toward that ungodly parking lot just down the street ...
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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