Tag Archives: Casey Trees

Pepco Green Wall On 12th Street Finally Completed

Long time readers know that building DC’s largest green wall in Brookland has been an ongoing project of ours. The idea started back on January 15, 2013, the day I first contacted Pepco. I had the crazy idea to ask if they would be willing to invest in beautifying the 12th Street substation #133. The bare brick wall of the substation stretches along 3/4 on the west side of the 3100 block of 12th Street NE (between Irving and Jackson Streets, NE). Those who are familiar with the wall know it is not a pretty site for the residents across the street and for all neighbors who walk up and down the street.

Finally, on Friday May 19, 2017 the project was finally completed when the native vine, Carolina Jessamine  (which were recommended by the Greater Brookland Garden Club) were planted in the new, recently expanded cut outs alongside the substation wall. Here is slide show of photos which document the transition of the wall from 2013 until today. (You need flash to see the photos, if you can’t see them, click here.)

Four years and four months of careful negotiating, meetings. research and lobbying for support in the local community required a lot of patience and waiting. Many of you will remember when I called out for support with a petition here on the blog to support our project. The overwhelming response from the community for sure made it much easier to make a strong case talking to Pepco.  With that said, I need to mention 2 key players in this process, without whom this project would have never succeeded:

Casey Trees

Mark Buscaino, Executive Director of Casey Trees, stood with our efforts unequivocally from the very beginning. He provided the (sometimes necessary) weight and pull of his well respected non-profit organization, as well as his experience in negotiating with large corporations like Pepco. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Casey Trees. After all, their mission is to restore, enhance and protect the tree canopy of our nation’s capital.

 Donna Cooper, Pepco Region President, learned about our request and agreed to meet to learn more about our ideas. The nature and size of our inquiry is clearly not within her usual realm of responsibilities. We owe Ms. Cooper a lot of gratitude in that she spend quite a bit of her valuable time on this project. Unfortunately, we experienced some delays in the process with the team she delegated the project to. But every time we contacted Ms. Cooper she was extremely helpful and made sure the  work on the project was kicked back into gear.

Shani and I have committed to ensure the plants get watered, especially through the hot summer months. Neighbors have asked me, if there is anything they can do to help. There are a few things that could help the “Green Wall” to thrive and become a beautiful feature in our Brookland neighborhood – it will be the collective little things, that will make the difference. First, ever since the first planter boxes were created, we noticed that they tend to “attract” litter. If you are passing by and see any trash in or around the boxes it would be great if you  picked it up. Also weeds need to be pulled whenever they pop up. The more of us keep an eye on the space alongside the trellis, the less effort it is for each individually to keep the space clean, appealing and flourishing.

Upcoming Casey Trees Classes – Planting, Pruning And More

Trees stored on Casey Trees 12th Street Tree Lot

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in community events that support the restoration of the District’s urban forest.  Brookland based Casey Trees offers ways to stay engaged for those interested in preserving and expanding DC’s tree canopy. We thought readers might be interested in the classes below, that are offered either at their Brookland headquarters or in greater DC locations. Go to  their event page here or follow the links below for more info and to register for the events:

Casey Trees is located at 3030 12th St NE.

Sneak Peek Inside CUA’s Heritage Hall

We were fortunate to attend an event to honor volunteers of Brookland based Casey Trees. We have driven by the location, Heritage Hall, on Catholic University’s campus many many times over the years and had always been curious about what it looks like on the inside. The Hall, which was recently restored in 2014, dates back to 1914. Hope you like the photos, as you can see it is a beauty! (Flash is required to view the photos, if you can’t see them, go here.)

Brookland’s “Green Wall” Project Finally Becomes Reality

Readers may remember our petition from January 2013  to bring a “green wall”  to the Pepco Substation 133 building on the 3100 block of 12th Street, NE (between Irving and Jackson). Back in April we finally got word that the project was a go. Now we are happy to report that the trellis structure along the entire 12th Street length of the Substation wall has been installed, and portions of the sidewalk have been cut out for planter beds to hold the vines. Now we just have to  wait for the vines to grow! Here are some pics:

We would like to thank the following folks who were instrumental in making this project possible:

  • Casey Trees Executive Director Mark Buscaino. Mark didn’t hesitate to represent the Brookland community to Pepco, offering his expertise and using the influence of his organization,  which added more weight to our case.
  • Donna Cooper, President of Pepco. Donna heard our request to beautify the building in early 2013 and met with us on multiple occasions. All this despite her busy schedule and obviously, much larger issues to deal with, and in the end, she approved the plan.
  • Our 300 + readers who gave us overwhelming support for this idea via our petition. This encouraged us to not give up on this plan over the years, and of course showed Pepco that DC residents pay attention to what large corporations give back to the community.
  • Joe Barrios, former ANC 5B04 Commissioner and an involved and engaged neighbor. Joe’s legal expertise and advice helped us greatly at the negotiations table.
  • Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember. Mr. McDuffie was the catalyst in the very beginning of this process. He hosted the first meeting with us, Donna Cooper and her team.
  • Mary Pat Rowan of the Greater Brookland Garden Club who  provided her expertise as a landscape architect.

The vines that were planted were Carolina Jessamine, which should look great year-round since they are evergreen and produce fragrant yellow flowers in spring. We are excited about this improvement for our community and hope that our neighbors are excited too!

Casey Trees Offers Fall Classes In And Around Brookland

Trees on Casey Trees Tree Lot
Trees on Casey Trees Tree Lot

Brookland based Casey Trees offers ways to stay engaged for those interested in preserving and expanding DC’s tree canopy. We thought readers might be interested in the classes below, that are offered either at their Brookland headquarters or in nearby NE DC locations. For the full schedule of classes, go here. Click on each classes link for more info.

Casey Trees is located at 3030 12th St NE.

Pepco Green Wall For 12th Street Finally Confirmed

Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night
Mark Buscaino announcing the green wall last night

Many readers may remember our petition to bring a “green wall”  to the Pepco Substation 133 building on the 3100 block of 12th Street, NE (between Irving and Jackson). Well,  we have great news to share! Last night at the Canopy Awards, hosted by Casey Trees, Executive Director Mark Buscaino announced that we should see a “Green Wall” trellis structure along the entire length of the  Substation wall, and cut out planter beds to hold the vines, installed by mid July. According to Mr. Buscaino, it will be the largest green wall in Washington DC. Pepco will install the structure and plant the vines, and overall, the end product is going to be better than what we originally asked for.

Help us turn this wall into a unique green space!
Current Pepco wall

I would like to give the biggest credit and many thanks to Mark, who didn’t hesitate to represent the Brookland community, offering his expertise and using the influence of his organization,  Casey Trees, which added more weight to our case.

Along with Mark, another key person who made this project possible was Donna Cooper, President of Pepco. Donna heard our request to beautify the building in early 2013, listened to our case, and met with us on multiple occasions. All this despite her busy schedule and obviously, much larger tasks and issues she has to deal with, and in the end, she approved the plan.

It has been a long process, which started two years ago when I approached Pepco and suggested that the huge brick wall along their substation needs some green beautification. It was obvious that it would improve the appearance of the building, but also act as a noise buffer and reduce the storm water run off. I reached out to the local community here on the blog and received overwhelming support for this idea, which encouraged me to not give up on this plan, and of course showed Pepco that DC residents pay attention to what large corporations like Pepco give back to the community.

The negotiations went back and forth often with months of delay in between. Design, maintenance plans, plant choice and permits were just a few of the aspects that had to be agreed on and taken care of.

Lastly, I would like to mention two other people who were instrumental in making this project possible.

Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.
Joe Barrios and CM McDuffie at a 2013 Brookland event.

Joe Barrios, ANC 5B04 Commissioner. When we began this process, Joe wasn’t Commissioner yet, but he was an involved and engaged neighbor. Joe’s legal expertise and advice helped us greatly at the negotiations table.

Kenyan McDuffie, Ward 5 Councilmember. Mr. McDuffie was the catalyst in the very beginning of this process. He hosted the first meeting with myself, Shani and Donna Cooper and her team. He requested updates on a regular basis and nudged Pepco here and there to add some very helpful official pushes in the right direction.

This is the most recent design plan provided by Pepco:

Pepco Green Wall Design Plan

We hope to have more plans and updates as the project moves forward this summer. We are so excited that this win-win concept will be brought to bear for our neighborhood.

Casey Trees Webinar To Answer Live Questions About Burying Power Lines

Casey Trees
Casey Trees

In early August we wrote about a project to bury a portion of the above ground power line system in DC (see this Washington Post article). Brookland residents will be affected as we are slated to be one of the first areas to be undergrounded. Unfortunately the city and Pepco only plan on burying selected power lines, so the poles and other lines will remain. If you want to weigh in on this plan, there is still time to submit written comments to the DC Public Service Commission until September 15 2014. Brookland based Casey Trees will be hosting an informative  webinar on the topic this Wednesday September 3rd at noon. Here are the details from their website:

As part of a $1 billion proposal called DC PLUG, the District and Pepco want to bury the worst-performing power lines in the city.

 Find out what this means for the trees in your neighborhood during our live webinar: DC PLUG: Burying Lines, Raising Questions

 This 30 minute webinar will provide you with the latest information and tools to speak out at the last public hearing on D.C.’s undergrounding project.

 We’ll go over:

  • Why the city doesn’t want to bury all of the overhead wires
  • Which lines will be buried and which will remain above ground
  • The benefits for and risks to trees if power lines are buried
  • Find out what impact this may have on your neighborhood’s street trees

Bring your questions and we will answer them live during the webinar!

Speakers:

Maisie Hughes, Director of Planning + Design
Emily Oaksford, Planning Associate
Suraj K. Sazawal, Advocacy Associate

For more details and to register for the webinar – click here.

Ward 5 Power Line Undergrounding – Less Is Going Underground Than You Think!

DC PLUG
Logo courtesy of DC Public Service Commission

In March, Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that funds an ambitious project to bury a portion of the above ground power line system in the District (see this Washington Post article). The project has been named DC PLUG and is scheduled to be implemented over the course of the next 7-10 years. A big and long lasting project like this, with a budget of $1 Billion, needs public scrutiny, awareness, inclusion and feedback.

We wrote here last week that the DC Public Service Commission started a series of public hearings to give residents a chance to learn more details about the project and to testify to the commission with their concerns, ideas and suggestions.

I attended the Ward 5 hearing on August 24. I was disappointed that only very few Ward 5 residents took the opportunity to hear the presentation about details of the proposed project. LeRoy Hall (Brookland resident and activist), Mary Pat Rowan (President of the Greater Brookland Garden Club) and Tom Bridge (President of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association) were the only people other than me, who testified. Hearings like this are a great opportunity to interact with public representatives and decision makers.

 Caren Bacon (Pepco) and Keith Foxx (DDOT) gave a presentation about what to expect in the months and years to come regarding the construction to put selected power lines underground. On page 10 of the presentation you can see which streets construction is scheduled for and what lines in particular are being put underground. I was surprised to hear that not all lines (i.e. cable) are going to be buried once a trench has been dug up in the street. Ms. Bacon explained to me that cost is the reason for not burying all lines and connecting the households underground. With that said, unless a collective of DC residents convinces Pepco that we deserve the extra investment  funded by the profit that they are making of the rates we are paying them, none of the poles will disappear and our trees will have to continue to endure drastic pruning. BUT, I was told that once the primary feeder [which runs power of very high voltage] has been removed, the pruning can be much less aggressive around the remaining secondary power lines.

Image courtesy of Casey Trees

I am also very excited to report that our friends at Casey Trees have testified at the Ward 7 meeting to make their expertise heard. Maisie Hughes, the Director of Planing and Advocacy at Casey Trees, stressed the importance in her testimony to protect the existing trees during the construction process and to assure the best possible conditions to enhance the tree canopy in the District for decades to come.

Here is a link to the audio recording of that meeting on August 24. There is still the opportunity to submit written comments to the DC Public Service Commission until September 15 2014. On their website it reads:

Any person desiring to comment on the application may file comments with the Commission no later than September 15, 2014. All written comments should be sent to MS. Brinda Westbrook-Sedgwick, Commission Secretary, Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street NW 2nd floor, West Tower, Washington D.C. 20005.

There are more hearings and meetings to come in the following months. Keep checking the Commission’s website to review all past and scheduled future events and meetings.

Get Money Back For Planting A Tree

Tree-Rebate-Tree-Tag-Revised2-1024x234
Image Courtesy of Casey Trees

Our good friends at Casey Trees remind us about the tree rebate program that is funded by the DC Department of the Environment. You can start by checking out the list of qualifying tree species on the Casey Trees website. You also want to make sure you pick a good tree for the location you identified. The CT website offers a lot of helpful information that guides you through the entire process from selecting, planting and caring for the tree.

Black Gum Tree in our Back Yard
Black Gum Tree in our Back Yard (partially funded by the Tree Rebate Program)

The beautiful Black Gum Tree on the left is just one of multiple trees we submitted a rebate application for.

On their blog CT describes how easy it is to submit an application for a tree rebate:

Participation is simple: purchase a tree from a vendor of your choosing, plant it in D.C., then download our form and submit the rebate with a purchase receipt for each tree. There is no limit to the number of rebates per property.

Many large canopy trees, thanks to their immense environmental benefits, qualify for rebates of up to $100 per tree. Most small and medium canopy trees also qualify, for rebates up to $50 per tree. Invasives, dwarf and ash trees however do not qualify for a rebate of any amount. Refer to our species list for more help.

HAPPY PLANTING !!!!!