Licking County News

Ash borer damage

Pataskala will not foot bill for new trees

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Pataskala City Council on June 17 decided against replacing dying ash trees in three subdivisions, but the city's service department will remove the remains.

The trees are being destroyed by the emerald ash borer, which infests ash trees and places larvae under the bark. When the larvae leave the tree as adults, they leave D-shaped holes.

Infested ash trees usually die within three to five years.

Councilman Mike Fox said the city should not pay to replace the trees but it could remove the trees and take out any stumps.

"We've got a lot more important things to do than ash tree removal," Fox said.

The city had $85,000 budgeted for the project, which included hiring an outside service to remove and replace the trees.

Fox asked if the work could be done by the city's service department.

City Administrator Timothy Boland said city staff members looked at the project along with all the other projects the service department is completing and determined it would be better to contract out for the job.

"They can do a lot of things but they can't do all things," Boland said.

Public Service Director BJ King said the trees are in the public right of way in the Brooksedge, Brook Haven and Taylor Glen subdivisions. The city required the developers to plant the trees.

King said when the trees die, the city typically removes the dead ones and replaces them with new trees.

Funding was included in an appropriation ordinance.

Councilman Bernard Brush requested an amendment to the ordinance that removed the funding for ash tree replacement.

The amendment was approved by all City Council members present, with Dan Hayes and Bryan Lenzo absent. The amended legislation was approved by the same vote.

In other business June 17:

* Brush requested the city prepare legislation on the United Nations Agenda 21, a plan passed in 1992 to promote sustainable development.

The city is considering opposing Agenda 21.

Council received a report from city staff members that said opposing Agenda 21 could make it more difficult to receive grant funding and could make it seem that Pataskala is not interested in efficient planning.

Resident Eileen DeRolph opposed the report, saying the city should review grant applications and funding on a case-by-case basis, making sure the funds are not tied to sustainability requirements that don't make sense for the city.

"The country is in terrible financial shape and continues to borrow money from China," she read in a statement. "Local government is desperate for money to repair its critical infrastructure -- roads and bridges -- both directly connected to successful economic development.

"How does it make sense for the (federal government) to pour money, through the regional government, down to the local government for anything but the most critical infrastructure needs: roads and bridges?"

* The city's utilities committee reviewed plans by Stantec Engineering of Columbus to improve drainage on Summit Road at Halloon Lane.

City Engineer John Grosse said it could cost $750,000 to improve area ditches and install piping, which would allow excess water to flow northeast into city storm sewers.

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