By Ethan Roy SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – For as long as the tradition was alive, a real Christmas tree took its place in Syracuse’s scenic Clinton Square every holiday season. Following the traditional approach of many Christmas-celebrating families, the real tree had been discovered, chopped down, and however tedious, transported and displayed as the centerpiece of Clinton Square. That all changed this year, with Mayor Ben Walsh and the City of Syracuse following a much more modern course of action, opting to implement an artificial Christmas tree at the core of Clinton Square.
Standing four stories tall, the artificial tree has brought a collection of benefits and relief to the city of Syracuse and the workers within. With a $50,000 price tag to purchase, the tree’s single down payment will save taxpayers over $30,000 a year in labor and overtime costs. The eventual economic impact will render the down payment arbitrary, as the city projects that over the next ten years, the switch to an artificial tree will save the city and its taxpayers an estimated $400,000.
To maintain and cater to the needs of the real tree, electricians and various tree staffers worked long hours, and even longer days. Logging two, sometimes three weeks of work on the maintenance of the real tree, labor costs and overtime payments skyrocketed. Eliminating the need to hang, and consequently remove, the lights from the tree, the artificial replacement has alleviated countless city workers of tree duties, freeing them up to focus on the other, perhaps more pressing needs of the city.
“It’s the right decision on many levels,” said Mayor Ben Walsh in regards to the switch. “It will put our city resources to better use…this tree will go up in less than a week, with no overtime costs. Other city work will no longer go on hold while the tree goes up.”
Compared to the weeks required to situate the real tree in Clinton Square, the replacement takes just a day to prepare for action. Furthermore, the longevity of the artificial tree eliminates the need to actually locate a real tree suitable to play the role of the centerpiece of a city square. In recent years, finding a proper suitor has grown increasingly difficult, with last year’s tree presenting itself at the last minute.
As the first Clinton Square tree to ever feature ornaments, the new tree has not only alleviated significant time and effort from the city and its workers, but also brought a pleasant shift from the visually unpleasant cone-shaped lights with thousands of new and programmable LED lights, and ornaments of course.
The debate over real or fake Christmas trees will persist, but in the case of the city of Syracuse and their efficiency, the artificial tree is a holiday home-run.