MORRISVILLE BOROUGH >> Bucks County and Morrisville Borough officials on Oct. 8 announced that the county has granted $25,000 to Bucks Beautiful for its ongoing efforts to restore the county’s tree population after recent waves of storm damage, disease and invasive insect devastation.
The money, awarded through the county’s Industrial Development Authority, will help fund Bucks Beautiful’s RePlant Bucks initiative, which began in 2018 with a goal of planting 10,000 trees throughout the county.
“We are very pleased to have received this $25,000 grant,” Gary Mathern, president of the nonprofit’s board, said at a tree-planting ceremony in Morrisville Borough's Patriot’s Park at Historic Summerseat, which itself has benefited from nearly a half-million dollars in public investment.
“We will be using that grant money to plant trees throughout the Lower Bucks area,” Mathern said, noting in particular the devastation that the invasive emerald ash borer has wreaked across the county. “This is an initiative we started approximately two years ago, and we’ve replanted 1,500 new trees in various parts of Bucks County.”
Mathern was joined by Robert G. Loughery, chair of the Bucks County Commissioners; Morrisville Borough Council President Debbie Smith; and Mary K. Smithson, chair of the Industrial Development Authority, in planting a red maple on the grounds of the fledgling three-acre park, formerly the site of the M.R. Reiter School.
For Morrisville officials, the maple represented the first of many trees they hope to see planted at the park, which sits adjacent to Summerseat, the December 1776 headquarters of General George Washington, which is being restored. It later was owned by two men who signed the Declaration of Independence: George Clymer and Robert Morris, the borough’s namesake who helped finance the American Revolution.
“That building is one of the most important buildings preserved in the United States,” Smith said. “To be able to preserve this piece of property alongside that building was big.”
Smith credited the county commissioners with recognizing the importance of the property and working with borough officials and residents to protect it with a conservation easement. The borough recently received a $325,000 Community Development Block Grant to pay for sidewalk, curbing and water management improvements to the park.
Commissioner Loughery credited a shift in approach by the Industrial Development Authority several years ago when it expanded its focus to include community-enhancing projects such as Patriot’s Park.
“We want to help create and enhance the quality of life in the communities that we live in, which then brings in new opportunities for businesses, for families to grow and thrive, for jobs to be created, and for people to enjoy our parks,” Loughery said.
Smithson called the park and the historic preservation efforts surrounding it “priceless. I mean that sincerely. It certainly will make a difference, not only today, but in the future.”
In addition to planting the red maple tree, Bucks Beautiful donated 500 daffodil bulbs from its Bulbs for Bucks program, which has planted 1.3 million bulbs in public places over the past few years. Mathern said another 100,000 would be planted in the county this fall.
“The trees proposed with this grant will help to restore the region’s forest canopy and enhance the beauty of Bucks County for generations to come,” Peter R. Fernandez, director of RePlant Bucks, said in a news release. Other locations with ongoing planting programs include Aquetong Springs Park in New Hope, Log College’s Warminster campus and Lower Nike Park in Warrington.