BOROUGH ARBORIST AXED

white-st-tree-install

Arborist Mike Olimpi oversaw the installation of 15 baby trees on White Street in April, 2007.

By JORDAN DeVESTY

The budget axe has fallen on Red Bank’s arborist, who oversaw the planting of some 400 new trees throughout town in recent years.

In a move that Mayor Pasquale Menna said will save the borough about $20,000 a year, the position was eliminated, and so its holder, Mike Olimpi, is out.

The termination was vaguely alluded to at Monday night’s borough council meeting, when Menna gave Olimpi a certificate of appreciation without immediately making clear that Olimpi was leaving the borough payroll.

Afterward, Menna cited shrinking tax and grant receipts as the reason.

“When revenue is down, everything can’t be provided, and unfortunately we don’t have the kind of funding for an arborist as we once did,” he told redbankgreen.

Olimpi told the borough hall audience that he was “a little disenchanted. I worry about the future” of the borough’s renewed focus on its green canopy, which earned the town a Tree City USA designation for the first time three years ago.

“My concern is not to go 10 steps forward and five back,” he said.

He praised the work of the borough Shade Tree Committee, with which he has overseen the installation of about 400 trees, including the batch he’s proudest of: a line of 14 Harvest Gold crabapples bordering the White Street municipal parking lot in April, 2007. Those trees replaced a line of Bradford pear trees that had grown into overhead utility lines.

Olimpi said the work of replacing and caring for trees is “very ambitious, but with a subtle, long-term enrichening effect.”

A tree, he said, “is not like a pothole.”

Olimpi, a Fair Haven resident whose original contract saw him in Red Bank until 2011, remains optimistic about his future. He says that he plans to relocate at the end of the month to continue his work in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he and his wife own a home.

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