A local merchant took a street tree that was being neglected and transformed it into a community asset.
Pelham Bay shop owner John Scanlon was none-too-thrilled when the city planted a tree next to his business on St. Theresa Avenue recently.
He decided that the tree, rather than becoming a depository of trash, dog waste and cigarette butts as many are, was going to be something that made the community sparkle and he wants others to follow his example.
Scanlon added planters, decorative wooden fencing and a sign that reads ‘Beautify The Bronx Campaign’ as well as what he described as an ‘ashtray’ for cigarettes butts made out of PVC pipe.
“Just think about it: if every tree in Pelham Bay, Throggs Neck and City Island had flowers, art or something original near them, these street trees would look a lot better,” said Scanlon, Pelham Bay Home Center proprietor.
At a cost of $350 to $400 he and his team was able build a wooden structure around the tree.
Flowers and topsoil for the planters were purchased at a nearby supermarket.
The posts for the structure are buried two-feet deep to make them sturdy, said Scanlon, and a secondary wooden support was put in place closer to the curb to prevent someone in a vehicle from knocking into it.
Scanlon’s store, located at 3073 Westchester Avenue, has already beautified its exterior by painting a mural to Saint Teresa of Calcutta and additional planters.
Councilman James Vacca, upon hearing of Scanlon’s effort, was very much in favor it and hopes the idea will indeed take off with others.
“I think the beautification of tree pits lends an aura to the neighborhood for both the residents and those who visit us,” said Vacca, adding of beautified tree pits: “It looks great on commercial streets, but on residential streets I think it would catch on like wildfire.”
He said that Scanlon’s community service showed leadership.
The councilman added other similar sprucing up would improve the perception of the community, which is so important.
Community activist John Marano, who along with the Throggs Neck Merchants Association organized treepit cleanups in 2016 along East Tremont Avenue between Miles and LaSalle avenues, also lauded the effort.
He believes that such efforts like Scanlon’s work would serve as an example to others and improve conditions on main shopping corridors.
“If you are a merchant who keeps the outside of the property clean, the inside must be immaculate,” said Marano. “I think it is eye-catching to the person driving by; I think it would be a key component in getting more shoppers out walking the streets and frequenting the establishments.”
Scanlon, whose business sells appliances, water heaters and piping, as well as other types of hardware, only sees the upside.
“I’m just hoping that other homeowners and business owners do something similar,” said Scanlon. “If not, my corner looks nice.”