Richmond Avenue to get 20 new trees from DOT this fall

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Richmond Avenue will soon feature some new greenery, as the New Jersey Department of Transportation [DOT] is sending the borough about two dozen free trees to line the Route 35 thoroughfare.

Point Pleasant Beach Shade Tree Commission Chair Anne Lightburn said the group and the borough are thrilled. The trees — crape myrtles — will bring a softer look to a historic local road that has evolved into more of a highway, she said.  

“The state, as well as ourselves, feel that this is a major artery going through town and its appearance is very important for the impression that the town makes,” said Ms. Lightburn. 

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The crape myrtles, which will line the road at various spots and blossom with flowers in the spring, will also bring a burst of color to Richmond Avenue, she said. The trees are appropriate for the area because of their beachy look and shortened height.

They will present a more attractive face to Point Beach visitors, eventually creating a colorful canopy that will entice drivers to slow down and enjoy the view.

“They are hardy, they’re drought tolerant and they will improve the appearance of Richmond Avenue,” she said.

“So there’s a lot of positive impacts, the aesthetics as well as the benefit of having a tree there,” she said.

Ms. Lightburn approached Mayor Paul Kanitra with the idea to apply for the trees through the DOT’s Good Neighbor program.

“When they take trees down, the municipality can apply to get tree replacements by the DOT which is pretty terrific,” she said. 

“We’re really thrilled because if they put these trees in, it’s worth thousands and thousands of dollars,” said Ms. Lightburn. “Of course, we’re going to have to spend some money to water them but it will be really nice for Point Beach.”

Trees along the highway were removed back in 2018 with little replacements.

“Some people probably remember them, on one side of the street they were pruned terribly, so we just made a decision… it would be best to remove them and replace them,” said Ms. Lightburn.

Since being approved for the program, Ms. Lightburn took the lead on moving forward with the new trees. 

“I’ve been working with the DOT people because some of the sites we have narrow street lawns, we’ve got overhead wires,” she said. Together they identified sites for more than 20 trees.

The borough expects the trees will be put in some time this fall to be ready for spring. 

The commission has also worked hard this year to assure a shade tree canopy in the borough. 

According to Ms. Lightburn, along with these 20-plus new trees from the DOT, the commission and its programs will almost match the number resulting in around 50 total new trees in the spring. 

Over the summer, the commission partnered with the Fisher Family Fund to bring more trees to the town at no cost to its residents. 

Property owners in Point Pleasant Beach were invited to apply for a free eight to 12-foot tall street tree for their property, at no cost to them, all in an effort to plant more trees throughout the borough.  

The commission again offered its annual Big Beautiful Tree Program this fall giving residents a way to purchase trees at a very reasonable price including the tree, delivery, professional planting and a guarantee for one year.

Eight- to 12-foot shade and flowering trees were available for $350 including red sunset maple, Valley Forge elm, Skyline honey locust and London plane trees. Ornamental flowering trees include Yoshino cherry, “Ann” magnolia, Scarlet Fire kousa dogwood and Merlot redbud.

For $250, six to seven-foot evergreen trees we’re available including Serbian spruce, Fernspray hinoki cypress, Blue Point juniper and ilex ‘Centennial Girl’ holly. 

Although trees needed to be ordered by Oct. 1, Ms. Lightburn said if people sign up late they may be able to work out an order, and planting will take place in October and November. To discuss your tree needs and receive an order form, call/text Dave Smith at 732-236-4927 or Don Rodgers at 908-451-3515. Order forms also available at Borough Hall.

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