North East Borough, a community of 4294 residents in Erie County, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1804 and incorporated in 1834. The earliest photographs show tree-lined streets and a central park. The urban tree cover has always been a source of pride, with mostly sugar maples lining every street.
Gibson Park and the North East Shade Tree Commission are the result of local residents’ longstanding commitment to trees. The Shade Tree Commission, chartered in 1965, is funded solely by the interest on a generous bequest. North East Borough has an annual budget for tree pruning, removal, and stump grinding, and maintains an inspection program to keep the remaining tree stock in viable condition. The Shade Tree Commission employs an arborist to advise and implement assessments.
Dominated by the sugar maples, the urban canopy is being increasingly affected by two issues: aging trees and depressed economic conditions. As the curb trees age and fail, the removals required to maintain safety outpace replacement plantings. The Shade Tree Commission, which meets monthly, is dedicated to seeking funding for future plantings.
The North East Borough Shade Tree Ordinance was updated in 2010 and is enforced by the Code Officer.