Press "Enter" to skip to content

1st recipient named for John Slifko Tree Fund award in Reading

Centre Park Historic District Inc. has announced the first award recipient of its John Slifko Tree Fund.

Carmelo Vazquez Jr. received a check from the fund, reimbursing him for the cost of planting a street tree in front of his home in the 200 block of Windsor Street.

The neighborhood organization created the fund in 2022 with a bequest from Slifko, a former city councilman, who died unexpectedly in 2019 and left the bulk of his estate to the district for street tree planting in the greater Centre Park area.

A longtime friend of Slifko, Vazquez selected an Armstrong gold maple from a list of city-approved street trees because it was one of his friend’s favorites, he said.

“We picked one for John,” he said.

Michael Lauter, executive director of Centre Park Historic District Inc., congratulates Carmelo Vazquez Jr., the first award recipient of the John Slifko Tree Fund.The tree Vazquez planted is seen in front of his home in the 200 block of Windsor Street. MICHELLE LYNCH - READING EAGLE
Michael Lauter, executive director of Centre Park Historic District Inc., congratulates Carmelo Vazquez Jr., the first award recipient of the John Slifko Tree Fund. The tree Vazquez planted is seen in front of his home in the 200 block of Windsor Street. (MICHELLE LYNCH – READING EAGLE)

Vazquez was looking to replace a dead street tree when he bumped into Michael Lauter, Centre Park Historic District executive director.

Lauter told him about the fund and Vazquez stopped by Centre Park’s headquarters, 705 North Fifth St., to pick up an application and tree list.

The application process was simple, said Vazquez, who grew up in the historic district in northwest Reading and bought a house there 25 years ago.

Part of the neighborhood’s appeal comes from the many shady trees lining its streets, he said, noting Slifko’s effort to plant trees in the area and throughout the city was well known.

With the city’s permission, Slifko organized volunteer work crews to cut concrete sidewalks and dug holes to create new tree pits, Lauter said. He and the volunteers also planted, mulched and watered the newly planted trees.

Through his efforts hundreds of trees were planted throughout the city, Lauter said.

The reimbursable grant program is open to property owners in the area bounded by Buttonwood, Bern, Front and Sixth streets.

Trees must be planted on the owner’s property.

Michael Lauter, executive director of Centre Park Historic District Inc., congratulates Carmelo Vazquez Jr., the first award recipient of the John Slifko Tree Fund.The tree Vazquez planted is seen in front of his home in the 200 block of Windsor Street. MICHELLE LYNCH - READING EAGLE
Michael Lauter, executive director of Centre Park Historic District Inc., congratulates Carmelo Vazquez Jr., the first award recipient of the John Slifko Tree Fund. (MICHELLE LYNCH – READING EAGLE)

Funds can reimburse the costs of buying trees as well as planting them, provided the planting is done by a company or contractor licensed in the city.

Residents cannot be reimbursed for their own labor to plant trees.

Partial funding is also available to reimburse the removal of dead or dying trees, provided new trees are planted to replace them.

Appropriate city permits are needed to plant trees in the right-of-way and city guidelines on tree selection and planting must be followed.

The best time for tree planting in eastern Pennsylvania is spring or fall, Lauter noted.

“But now is a good time to complete and submit the application,” he added.

Applications are available at the Centre Park website, by emailing Michael Lauter at mlauter@comcast.net or by calling him at 484-269-6718.

Applications also can be picked up at the district’s headquarters, 705-707 N. Fifth St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays and from 2 to 6 p.m. Mondays.


Source: Berkshire mont

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply