Media Borough’s Shade Tree Commission: Planting, maintaining and protecting borough trees

As you stroll the streets of Media Borough, you might not be thinking about the beautiful trees that line the sidewalks or provide shade to the borough’s buildings and parks, but Media’s Shade Tree Commission is thinking about them – all the time! Shade trees offer so many benefits to the residents and visitors of Media including shade (and climate control) on hot summer days, stormwater management (roots of one mature tree can absorb more than 1000 gallons of stormwater per year!), and clean air!

Media Borough has been a designated “Tree City USA” for 38 years. The Shade Tree Commission works hard to maintain the beauty of Media streets and our Tree City designation. The commission is responsible for planting, maintaining, protecting and removing trees, where necessary, planted on borough land. For the most part, borough trees are those that are between the sidewalk and street within the borough or grow around borough buildings and within borough parks. Recently, larger trees have been causing issues with overhead power lines and in some instances, interfering with the safety of pedestrians when the root systems lift sidewalks. Where at all possible, the commission works to protect and save trees within the borough. When the tree presents significant hazards, however, there is often no choice but to remove the tree from borough property.

New trees are being planted throughout the borough at a higher rate than taken down, which is great news for borough residents! The trees that are planted have been chosen very carefully by the Shade Tree Commission who take into consideration avoiding overhead wires and choosing trees with root systems that won’t interfere with sidewalks and drains. Native trees are always considered.

Kathy LoRusso, a Media resident, chairs the Shade Tree Commission. Kathy is a retired RN who has turned her healing talents from humans to trees! Transplanted from the midwest to Wallingford, Kathy moved to the borough in 2001. She became a member of the Shade Tree Commission soon after moving in when she contacted the commission about an indentation in her sidewalk where a tree used to stand. The borough planted a new tree in that spot and Kathy offered to help on the commission. She has been a member of the Shade Tree Commission since 2006, serving as chair since 2008, and is a certified “Tree Tender” through the “Tree Tender” program.

Also on the commission is Donald Jackson, Tree Warden. Donald was a post secondary director/instructor of horticulture/landscape for over two decades and was also an adjunct professor at Delaware County Community College for many years. When the Shade Tree Commission receives a call from a resident about a tree that is considered a nuisance or hazard, Donald assesses it for injury and health. The commission avoids taking down a tree unless it is a danger to residents or pedestrians. If the tree is deemed healthy, they will trim the tree where necessary. Currently, Donald Jackson, with the help of the commission, is working on a borough wide inventory and tree assessment to get an idea of the species of trees planted on borough property and how our borough will be impacted decades down the road by their growth.

The remaining Shade Tree Commission members include Chris McNichol, a horticulturalist, Jean Thomas, a landscape designer and gardener, and Amy Johnson, borough council liaison – also a gardener. The Media Borough Public Works Director, Ralph DeRosa, works closely with the Shade Tree Commission as the commission’s “boots on the ground” observer. Ralph travels daily throughout the borough during his working day and alerts the commission to trees that should be checked. Ralph also orchestrates any work that needs to be done on the trees, including planting, trimming, maintenance, and removal. During the Shade Tree Commissions monthly meetings, the members can sometimes be seen riding with Ralph throughout the borough to identify trees that may need maintenance or care.

When a tree needs to be replaced, the Shade Commission will purchase trees from several area nurseries; always careful to choose the right tree for the right spot. Native trees are always considered. What are native trees you ask? They are plants and trees that have been in our area going back hundreds of years. A great list of native plants was compiled beginning in the mid 1800’s and is housed in the Delaware County Institute of Science on Veteran’s Square in Media. The collection of dried, pressed plants attached to special archival papers kept at DCIS is called a herbarium . It is housed in a special wooden cabinet that was built in May 1887, located on the second floor in the SW corner of the Lecture Hall.

In 1869, two years after the Institute’s home was built here in Media, Dr. George Smith donated his private collection of 2400 dried plant specimens to those already present. Until the mid-20th century, members with botanical interests continued to collect and add dried plants to the herbarium, so that now it contains close to 5700 specimens. The majority of them represent Delaware County, PA angiosperms (flowering plants), but there are also specimens from many states in the US, as well as some from foreign countries. It is definitely worth the short trip to see the collection!

Kathy LoRusso would like Media residents to know that the Shade Tree Commission welcomes your questions about trees, whether they are trees located on borough property or in your own yard. They also welcome questions you might have about which trees to plant in your yard and can help you avoid a costly mistake when choosing a tree. You may reach the Shade Tree Commission by emailing Jeff Smith, Borough Manager, at

So while you stroll our beautiful and shade filled streets, please remember to thank our Shade Tree Commission! The commission volunteers work tirelessly to protect and maintain Media Borough’s trees for future generations and are proud to be called “tree huggers” for the borough.