MANCHESTER — A new kind of ribbon is popping up on maple trees along Main Street,and it has nothing to do with support for Operation Desert Storm.
About two weeks ago, bright pink ribbons were attached to 30 of the aging trees, signifying their demise.
The marked trees, disease-ridden and fragile, will come down thisfall as the town's TREEmendous Committee prepares to replace them with a snazzy new Pennsylvania State University hybrid that grows easier near telephone poles and utility lines.
"They're really pretty trees," said Councilwoman Charlotte B. Collett, who is spearheading the town's tree-replacement efforts. "They're smaller, leafy trees, andthey'll look really nice along Main Street."
The trees that were marked will be taken down in October or November by Baltimore Gas andElectric Co. and will be chopped into lumber.
The old maples have"been around since I was a kid," Collett said. The trees that will replace them -- called zelkova trees -- are better-suited to urban settings, she said.
The zelkovas, experts say, look similar to the maples they will replace. But they are not as susceptible to insect damage or growth problems as are the maples.
When fully grown, the zelkovas will throw a canopy of leafy shade over the street and houses,Collett said. The trees will be brought to town already several years old and about 6 feet tall.
The 30 maples were originally slated to be removed and replaced this spring, but Collett and the county environmental officials decided to keep the giant shade-producers up for one last summer.
Many of the damaged trees are on the east side of Main Street, from Beaver Street to Walnut Street. Homeowners with a marked tree on their property will be notified by town officials before the tree is removed.
Town officials are hoping that a similareffort along the west side of Main Street can be launched soon.
After removal, the trees will be chopped up and the lumber will be offered to the homeowner. The town will ask homeowners to repair sidewalks damaged by the tree removal process.
A meeting of the TREEmendous Committee at 9:30 tomorrow morning will focus on the replacement process; the meeting will be open to residents. The committee has ninemembers.
While BG&E will chop up the trees and Penn State and thecounty will provide the replacement trees, the town will be responsible for disposing of tree stumps. No cost estimate was available lastweek.
"The TREEmendous Committee looks at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revitalize the lovely tree-lined appearance of Manchester," Collett said.
The zelkovas will be planted sometime next spring. While Collett is hoping for an Arbor Day planting, she hasreceived no confirmation from Penn State of when the trees will be planted.
The replacement program is the latest effort of the TREEmendous Committee, an organization founded by former Councilwoman DianeD. Maddox. In recent weeks, the committee has planted 50 disease-resistant dogwoods as well as organized the planting of 1,500 white pineseedlings by town fourth-graders throughout the Manchester Watershedarea.
"We really hope to keep things like this going," Collett said. "Trees are an important part of this town, and we need to take care of them."