Town of Manlius Supervisor Ed Theobald (left) and Village of Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson (right) help plant two dogwood trees in front of the Canal Landing Park sign in Fayetteville on Tuesday, Oct. 30. (photo by Lauren Young)
A commemorative tree planting ceremony was held on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in front of Canal Landing Park in Fayetteville to honor the dedication to urban forestry of Pat Tobin and Brian Skinner, two former state Urban Forestry Council members.
Along with friends and family, Village of Fayetteville Mayor Mark Olson and board trustee Mike Small, along with Town of Manlius Supervisor Ed Theobald and board member Karen Green attended the gathering, as did all members of the Manlius and Fayetteville tree commissions.
Longtime council member Pat Tobin served on the all-volunteer Fayetteville Tree Commission since 1993 and serving as its chair from 2002 until her unexpected death on Sept. 1. She was also a founding member of the Town of Manlius Tree Commission in 2002 and continued to serve on its board, later serving on the state forestry council as president from 2006 to 2009.
Tobin, a Fayetteville resident, was born and raised in Eastwood and graduated from Syracuse University. After spending 40 years at Niagara Mohawk as an IT programmer, she became devoted to volunteering after retirement.
“Once in a lifetime someone special comes into your life, and Pat came into our life at the village,” said Olson. “Everywhere in this village, her memory, or her thoughts, went into this park: the little league field, canal landing phase four, beard park, the fire house, the senior center … I can’t think of a place in this village she hasn’t touched.”
Tobin was dedicated to her craft and “commanded a great audience when it came to giving back to this community,” Olson said. “There aren’t enough words to say what these trees will mean, but I know when I drive by this park every day going to work I’m going to remember Pat and all that she did for this village.”
Senior arborist Brian Skinner, who worked often with Tobin on community tree projects, was also honored. He retired from National Grid in 2018, spending over four decades sharing his time, talent and expertise with local and regional volunteer tree committees and municipalities.
A SUNY ESF graduate, Skinner was on the Board of Directors for the New York State Arborists/ISA Chapter as its treasurer, vice president of the NYS Urban Forestry Council and an ASCA registered consulting arborist, among others.
Tom Malarney, an arborist with Bartlett Trees, said Skinner is a “great resource” and “loved to answer questions.”
“We are, in Central New York, a better place because of Brian, and so many others too, trying to get good, accurate information out,” said Malarney.
Skinner has won multiple awards for his efforts and was a familiar face at the New York State Fair information booth, among other places. In fact, the Exposition Center at the state fairgrounds features a red oak tree nearby, planted by local arborists and dedicated to Skinner, who was present to watch the planting.
Clare Carney from Cornell Cooperative Extension helped the commission pick out the trees — two “Golden Glory” dogwoods. In the spring, they will bloom to vibrant, yellow flowers, said Carney.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.