City officials are asking residents to lend a helping hand to spruce up Port Richey with two new programs friendly to the environment.
The City Council recently approved the Adopt a Tree and Adopt a Road programs.
City Manager Tom O'Neill hopes volunteers will step forward as word spreads about the initiatives.
"I was approached by a local church volunteer group wanting to do some service in the city," O'Neill said, recalling a conversation from a few weeks ago. At the time, fewer options existed.
The tree and road volunteer efforts have been successful for Pasco County and New Port Richey, O'Neill said.
"The value of a tree is not to be underestimated," O'Neill said.
Trees provide shade, enhance the environment and beautify roadways, he said. Some experts refer to it as an "urban forest," O'Neill said.
"Many areas and roadways … have lost their shade canopy due to development or trees dying due to natural causes," O'Neill said in a memo to City Council members.
Sections of Bay Boulevard and Old Post Road have few trees, O'Neill said.
He hopes that Port Richey can earn the Tree City USA designation. "I certainly would like to see that as a goal," he said.
The city will set aside up to $5,000 from a contingency fund to buy trees, O'Neill said. A resident could request a tree be planted in a spot near a home.
Wholesale prices means each live oak or laurel tree would cost $100 or less, O'Neill said.
City public works crews would check for any conflicts with utility easements and then plant the trees in the public right of way in a suitable spot.
The employees would put in peat, slow-release fertilizer and mulch.
The resident would volunteer to water the tree and care for it as it takes root.
Typically, a tree needs 10 gallons of water three times a week during the first month as it establishes itself.
For the full watering schedule or other information, call the city at (727) 816-1900.
Costs are minimal for the Adopt a Road program, O'Neill said.
Volunteer groups would clean up litter along a street quarterly. The group would get its name on an Adopt A Road street sign.
The city would lend safety vests and provide trash bags. Public works employees would pick up the trash bags.