FAIRFIELD — Helping to keep the trees of downtown healthy and looking good is the perfect job for a guy with the last name of Wood.
The aptly named Rick Wood and a team of about seven other people spent the weekend pruning and sprucing up the flora of downtown Fairfield. The movement has turned into an annual event as service to the city on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
“It’s amazing how much green waste comes off a small tree,” Wood said while the sun set Monday. “Everyone wants to know what we’re up to. I’m happy to tell them.”
As funding for Fairfield’s tree crews mostly dried up, Wood teamed with the city to come up with a way to keep the trees maintained. His group worked on trees in the surrounding streets of downtown, piled up the waste and the city will come to chip up the pile Tuesday.
Wood continued to throw palm leaves on that large heap as Monday ended. The corner of Great Jones and Empire streets was full of branches, leaves and other foliage from about the 100 trees he and his team members touched. The pile came from trees from Pennsylvania Avenue up to Armijo High School, from about Kentucky to North Texas Street.
This year, Wood and company even added a day and took care of some trees on Missouri Street. Wood said the city’s crews are kept busy with limbs or trees that are a hazard. His group focuses on the health of the tree and removing parts that may stunt growth.
“We’re not opposed to pruning a limb when we see it,” he said. “We try and take care of the trees and make them healthy. It’s a statement of optimism. The trees will be around a lot longer than we are. We hope people enjoy them.”
The group traditionally meets at Wood’s house for dinner after the job is done. That’s where Lee Loveall was while talking about service. Loveall said the effort picks up a bit of momentum each year.
“It seems every day we add a new day. (Wood) started the ball rolling and every year we get one or two new people. We’re a pretty big crew now,” Loveall said. “He’s almost like an arborist. We’re learning, too. He explains it all to us.”
Loveall has lived downtown for 30 years and said he was recruited by Wood to join the group. After seeing the trees, it was an easy decision.
“I think most of us got used to running into tree branches when we walked down the street,” he said. “It’s a great thing. A lot of the people that live in the neighborhood, they thank us for making downtown look better.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.