By Cary Shuman
Every city and town in Massachusetts with a population of 10,000 or more residents is required to have a tree warden.
So when Chelsea Tree Warden Andy DeSantis becomes the Massachusetts Tree Warden of the Year, it’s a major honor, one in which the city can take great pride.
In fact, Chelsea city leaders paid tribute to DeSantis’s success by planting a tree in his honor at Washington Park. That event attended by City Manager Tom Ambrosino coincided with Chelsea’s Arbor Day planting celebration.
Allan Alpert, the city’s emergency management director, lauded DeSantis for his statewide recognition.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Andy his whole tenure in Chelsea and he’s always accessible and gets right back to you,” said Alpert. He’s a wonderful man to work with and I congratulate him on receiving this wonderful, much-deserved award.”
City Treasurer Bob Boulrice, a tomato grower of note, also congratulated DeSantis.
“I grow tomatoes at the Chelsea Community Garden and Andy DeSantis, in his capacity as tree warden and with his incredible knowledge, he’s always been helpful and supportive to our group’s efforts,” said Boulrice. “I congratulate Andy on this well-deserved honor.”
DeSantis, 64, retired as assistant director of the Department of Public Works on April 6 and is now working part time for the DPW and as tree warden. He served as assistant director for 22 years, having previously worked in Revere as the superintendent of Public Works.
“My tenure in Chelsea has been great,” said DeSantis. “It’s an excellent place to work. The city gives me the latitude to do what I need to do. The city has provided a lot of funding for upgrading its infrastructure.”
DeSantis, who is considered an expert in arboriculture, oversees approximately 2,000 public-shade trees in the city. “Public-shade trees are defined as the trees in the public right of way,” he said. “We’ve planted over 1,000 trees in the past 12 years.”
DeSantis said through the efforts of former city councilor Roseann Bongiovanni, Chelsea became a Tree City in 2005, meeting the standards of the Arbor Day Foundation and affirming that “Chelsea cares about its trees.” The Tree City designation makes Chelsea eligible for grant funding.
“I think the future looks good for Chelsea,” said DeSantis. “We just got a grant for
$30,000 that going to update the tree inventory and perform a tree risk assessment of all our trees.”