OAKLAND — The historic town of Oakland has been recognized for its buildings that have lasted a century, nature trails and unique old-fashioned homes. Now the town in Orange County is getting recognition for something else: its trees.
For the 20th consecutive year, Oakland has been named a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation. The town got the recognition “in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management,” noted Elisha Pappacoda, the town’s Administrative Services and Communications Director.
Why Did the town of Oakland Get This Recognition?
“In 2022, Public Works staff oversaw the installation of approximately 500 new trees of various species, which included those planted on Town-owned properties, at the Oakland Nature Preserve and within newly constructed neighborhoods,” Pappacoda noted in a news release.
Oakland got this special Tree City USA recognition by meeting all four requirements of the program. That includes:
- Having a tree board or department
- Maintaining a tree care ordinance
- Creating an annual community forestry budget of at least $2 per capita
- and observing Arbor Day.
The town’s Public Works Director Mike Parker noted that Oakland actually exceeds the Arbor Day Foundation standards by requiring developers to replace trees that get brought down during construction.
“Once again, through the efforts of both public and private sectors, and the volunteer efforts at the Oakland Nature Preserve, the Town of Oakland has done a remarkable job of preserving and maintaining our urban tree canopy for future generations,” Parker said.
As a way of commemorating two decades as a Tree City USA, Oakland recently hosted a special art and history exhibit at the Healthy West Orange Arts & Heritage Center that celebrated the beauty of nature. The exhibit also explored the inspiration behind Oakland’s name.
As Pappacoda noted, “The benefits trees bring to urban environments are endless and include cooler temperatures, cleaner air, higher property values, and healthier residents. Oakland has demonstrated a commitment to doing its part in this effort. “
Where is Oakland, Florida?
Established in 1887, Oakland is one of the oldest municipalities in Orange County and celebrated its 130th Anniversary in 2017. Their downtown once had an opera house, although a deadly fire decimated much of the downtown that never got rebuilt. Still, their historic City Hall dates back to 1911.
Oakland is also known for its parks and trails, which provide enormous recreational activities for area residents and visitors alike, who enjoy the beauty and natural wonder of parks such as Pollard Park, Speer Park, and VanderLey Park.
The city also hosts the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center at 126 W. Petris Ave., which has permanent exhibits, including the historic Oakland Presbyterian Church’s illuminated stained-glass window that dates back to the 1919 brick structure, and a video presentation on the continuing historic preservation of Oakland’s Historic African-American Cemetery.
The Center is open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the 4th Fridays of the month during the summer and on select Saturdays.
The mission of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center is preserving Oakland’s past, present and future. The Center supports the mission of Healthy West Orange, a grassroots movement to inspire west Orange County to become the healthiest community in the nation.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.