When Jim Murphy, president of CFC Properties, Inc., and an officer on the Bloomington Parks Foundation board, noticed the trees around the Monroe County Courthouse weren’t looking as healthy as they had in the past, he didn’t just wonder what could be done, he decided to do something. “The trees were getting old and weren’t ones normally planted in urban areas,” he says.

Murphy pitched a tree-replacement plan to city officials, then toured the downtown Square with them to identify trees that needed to be replaced. Replacement began in 2014 with two trees on Kirkwood. “Most of the trees weren’t ready yet,” Murphy says. “Now they are.”

At the city’s Arbor Day ceremony in April, the Parks Foundation and the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department officially announced the Downtown Square Tree Campaign to replace aging and ailing trees around and near the Square. Sponsors are needed to support the effort and 34 trees are available for sponsorship.

In the first phase of the effort, more than a dozen trees have been replaced and several more will be planted this fall, says Julie Ramey, community relations manager for Bloomington Parks and Recreation. A second phase of the project will see additional trees planted in 2017. Most of the new, replacement trees are American Lindens.

The cost of replacing each tree is approximately $4,000. Expenses include removing trees; removing earth and cement to enlarge open spaces beneath the trees so they can better absorb nutrients; replacing power and water lines; purchasing and planting new trees; covering the expanded area with new, larger grates; and maintaining the new trees.

Some of the cost was covered by a $12,000 state grant, but sponsors are needed to cover additional costs. The Parks Foundation, which raises funds for the Parks and Recreation Department, established the sponsorship program whereby businesses and individuals can sponsor a tree for $2,000. Sponsors receive a 12-by-6-inch plaque mounted at the base of the tree for 10 years with a three-line personalized message.

“Trees are a significant asset downtown for beauty, shade, and the environment,” Murphy says. “This is Tree City, USA. I have no doubt that all trees will be sponsored.”

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