Help wanted: North Long Beach resident finds
watering trees along Cherry Avenue is a lonely task
About eight years ago, volunteers planted Palo Verde trees along Cherry Avenue
between 63rd and 65th streets, converting a six-foot wide parkway from a stretch
of weeds and trash to a green corridor.
Since then, Michael Gonzalez has become the unofficial watering captain of the trees,
a job that often has become a solo task and an illustration of the challenges in caring
for public works projects.
When Gonzalez learned that trees were going to be planted behind his house and
along the entire two-block length of the east side of Cherry, he volunteered to help.
“At that time, my two older kids were still going to a private school that required
them to do community service,” said Gonzalez. “So I thought this was going to work
perfectly! My kids can do their community service in their own neighborhood while
acquiring a great hands-on learning experience.”
Gonzalez said no one wants to take ownership of the trees even though they directly benefit everyone who lives on the west side of St. Louis Street, where all the back yards border Cherry Avenue.The trees are planted on the city-owned parkway just outside the six-foot concrete-block wall across all the backyards on the double block.
Gonzalez explained that the watering process can be arduous and tedious. He throws his garden hose over the wall in his backyard, brings a cart that can hold several five-gallon buckets, fills them up, and waters each tree. Sometimes,
volunteers recruited by Grant Neighborhood help Gonzalez clear trash, trim and water the thirsty trees.
In the early years, the neighborhood association delivered multiple fliers to residents on St. Louis avenue, encouraging them to participate in the maintenance of the Palo Verde trees. In addition, Gonzalez has used the online networking site Nextdoor in efforts to recruit help watering the trees.
Nobody responded to his requests.
Gonzalez notes that the trees provide multiple benefits to St. Louis street residents – the now 20-foot tall trees create shade, absorb street noise, beautify Cherry Avenue and help reduce carbon in the atmosphere. Real estate experts say the trees also help boost property values.
Before the trees were planted, the six-foot wide parkway was a two-block-long stretch of weeds and trash.
Some St. Louis street residents don’t like the trees.
"My kids can do their community service in their own neighborhood while
acquiring a great hands-on learning experience.” -Michael Gonzalez