Honor Grove at Creekside Park is filling up with various trees as area residents purchase them to honor their loved ones, celebrate happy occasions or mark milestones.

Fairfield park uses trees to memorialize, honor loved ones

The concept for the grove is a straightforward one: select a type of tree to be planted, choose a family member or special loved one for the name on the plaque and visit at one’s leisure to enjoy the tree as it grows.

Twenty-nine trees have been planted in the 15-acre park in honor or in memory of a loved one in the past three years, and there’s room for 87 more.

“The customer picks a type of tree that they would like to plant and then selects a family member for the name on the plaque,” said Bob Schappacher, facilities manager for Fairfield Parks & Recreation.

Contribution levels are available at $300, $450 and $600, which include the tree and its planting plus its continued maintenance and, if necessary, its replacement. Each tree is a unique, separate species already plotted out via a numbered map of the park, which stretches along Banker Drive from Nilles Road to Crystal Drive.

“They’re laid out to where they’ll have plenty of room to grow,” Schappacher said. “We don’t have trees right on top of each other.”

The city of Fairfield sought and obtained federal funds for the site, which is located in a floodplain, then tasked its Environmental Commission to devise a use for the property, he said.

The end goal is to turn the park into a wooded area again within the next 1o to 15 years, Schappacher said, noting the city plans to add small touches to beautify the park during that time.

Each tree has a number corresponding to its spot in the grove, as well as the name of the tree. In addition, names of those being memorialized or honored and their corresponding tree numbers are inscribed on 30-by-24 inch bronze plaques and installed atop a stone pedestal.

Planting a tree can sometimes draw a crowd, Schappacher said.

“There’s been times we’ll have 40 or 50 family members come down,” he said. “Some of them (their loved ones) have just recently passed, so they want to do a tree in their memory.”

Some area residents opt to plant it to honor of a friend or family member, mark a milestone or celebrate the birth of a child or a significant wedding anniversary.

Some even buy it just for themselves.

“That way while you’re still here you can still enjoy it,” Schappacher said. “It doesn’t have to be for someone who has passed. You can buy it for a kid and then that way, when the kid lives around here for 30 years, they can come back and see how it’s grown.”

Trees ordered between March 16 and and Sept. 15 are planted in the fall. Those ordered between Sept. 16 and and March 15 are planted in the spring.

Veronica Craig, of Fairfield, said she purchased two trees, a Shag Bark Hickory in memory of her parents, who visited such a tree regularly during her youth, and a Linden in memory of her in-laws, who had a such a tree on their property on Lindenwood Lane.

For her in-laws, she said, who were “Fairfield people,” the trees are constant, comforting presence.

“My mother-in-law taught in Fairfield City Schools. My father-in-law … had his own business in Fairfield,” Craig said. “”It was so neat to add something that literally kept them rooted in the community. I drive past that … three, four times a week and smile and just know that even though their house is no longer part of our family, I’ve got something very tangible that we can go and see.”

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