Mike Lyon

Mike Lyon of the South Boston Rotary Club asks town council for its blessing in support of his club’s grant application for up to $5,000 to help replace 51 Bradford pear trees lining streets in downtown portions of the town.

The Bradford pear trees lining portions of streets in downtown South Boston may have outlived — and outgrown — their usefulness, and South Boston Rotary Club is seeking a grant to help with replacement of 51 trees lining North Main Street, Main Street and portions of Ferry Street and Wilborn Avenue.

Rotarian Mike Lyon asked town council for support of his club’s application for a Rotary Foundation Economic and Community Grant for as much as $5,000.

The Rotary Club could get as much as $5,000 for a downtown project if the application is approved, according to Lyon, whose club has “scouted the community to look for opportunities and projects.

“We as Rotarians look for input from the community and think the Bradford pear trees have outgrown their usefulness,” said Lyon.

Lyon asked the town’s support for replacing the Bradford pear trees with more compact trees, which don’t grow as large and would have no “unfavorable odor.

“We need for you to be aware it must be a sustainable project, meaning any improvements we do remain for a lengthy period of time,” explained Lyon. “It must involve boots on the ground from our Rotarians, meaning we would want to be involved.

“We don’t want to just hand off a check. In fact, our grant would be degraded if that’s the case,” he added.

The club has to submit a grant application for the funding, and Rotarians have to build consensus for the project within the club, Lyon explained.

“This is not a given project, but one we need to get before council,” said Lyon, adding that $5,000 is the maximum amount awarded.

Lyon is aware that $5,000 would not complete the project, with Town Manager Tom Raab telling council that $5,000 would cover the replacement of approximately 10 trees.

Therefore, the project would have to be accomplished in a four-to-five year time frame.

The current trees have been in place for about 30 years, according to Raab, who told council it costs approximately $10,000 to $15,000 each year to trim them and that a good replacement tree would cost approximately $150.

The biggest cost comes with the removal of the trees currently lining the streets, Raab said.

The Rotary Club has not formally approved the project, and the club faces a deadline of 30 days for submitting the grant application, Lyon told council.

Council, on a motion from Vice-Mayor Coleman Speece, voted unanimously to give formal approval — in principle — for Lyon’s grant application to move forward.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at dford@gazettevirginian.com.