The Ohio Department of Development has announced that the Land Bank –acting on behalf of 14 participating Montgomery County jurisdictions – has received the maximum award of $500,000 from the state’s Demolition and Site Revitalization program, which was created by the legislature to revitalize communities and make room for redevelopment.
The funds will pay for the demolition of dilapidated residential and commercial structures not located on brown fields. The rest of the Land Bank’s and all other counties’ requests are pending ODOD review, with further awards to be announced in September.
Counties with established land banks were required to designate those agencies as the lead entity in applying for the funds.
Shared priorities have brought together the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and the Land Bank in a new urban reforestation effort. The goal is to achieve tree equity in neighborhoods where a healthy tree canopy is lacking due to historical economic disinvestment.
Tree equity is an indicator of an adequate number of trees in a neighborhood for everyone to experience the health, economic and climate benefits that shade trees provide. Experts say a healthy tree canopy helps reduce summertime temperatures and air pollution, enhances property values,provides aesthetic benefits and improves social ties among neighbors.
ODNR is selecting, providing and delivering young trees to interested neighborhood residents who commit to caring for them. Because Land Bank programs typically focus in neighborhoods of blight and disinvestment, it is uniquely positioned to connect the new trees to the residents who have been adversely affected by the lack of tree equity.
ODNR has identified the tree varieties most likely to thrive locally and recruited tree “stewards” to help participants plant and care for the trees.
The catalyst for the partnership was the Land Bank’s Twigs to Trees program in which volunteers plant seedlings on lots vacated after demolitions to enhance a neighborhood’s overall health and deter dumping and vandalism on vacant lots.
Project organizers plan to plant at least 30 young trees in 2022.