HAVERHILL — For more than 10 years, he’s been helping to beautify the city by planting and maintaining trees in parks and other areas.
As a long-time member of Haverhill’s Brightside organization, David LaBrode has also become a watchdog of sorts and has taken it upon himself to notify officials whenever he sees a problem. You might call him Haverhill’s unofficial tree hugger.
Whether it’s letting the city know about a damaged tree planted through the mayor’s tree planting program or one that appears to need care, LaBrode is always quick to react.
He didn’t hesitate to reach out to the mayor in early July when he noticed that during a heat wave, trees were being planted along Bailey and Ginty boulevards. He said it just didn’t seem like the best time of year to be planting trees.
“It’s not that you can’t plant at that time of year, but it isn’t the ideal time,” LaBrode said. “Planting trees at this time of year subjects them to considerable stress, mainly from heat.”
LaBrode was pleased to see the care that was taken in planting the trees, including proper preparation of the soil and staking of the trees, but he worried they might not survive. He also wondered if they would be watered or simply left to their own survival. He contacted Mayor James Fiorentini with his concerns and also told him about Amesbury’s tree planting program, which relies on volunteers to care for trees after they are planted.
“I’m a tree advocate, but I don’t want to see them put in a tree then walk away,” LaBrode said. “It would basically be a death sentence for the tree.”
Fiorentini responded to LaBrode with more details about the city’s tree planting program than he expected.