Residents ask council to fund street tree replacement
Two Brooksedge residents told Pataskala City Council they want the city to replace ash trees in their subdivision that were destroyed by the emerald ash borer.
Ruth Ann Miller, a member of the Brooksedge homeowners association, said the city required the developer to plant the trees along the streets and now the city won't replace those that have died.
Shirley Showvron, another Brooksedge resident, said she has supported local taxes in the past, such as the city's income tax, and can't understand why those taxes won't pay to replace dead street trees in her neighborhood.
Council on June 17 changed an appropriations ordinance by removing funding for ash tree removal and replacement in Brooksedge and two other subdivisions
City Council on June 17 also tabled a resolution to advertise for bids for the tree removal and replacement, though members agreed the city should remove the dead trees and stumps even if it doesn't replace the trees.
Councilman Mike Fox on July 1 reiterated his concern about council's spending, saying the income tax can't even pay to fix all the city's drainage issues and road problems. He said the city has had to borrow money to repair roads.
Fox said the income tax funds street repairs and the Pataskala Division of Police.
He asked if the trees, which are planted between the street and the sidewalk in the city's right of way, are damaging the sidewalks.
Councilman Bernard Brush also asked about the placement of the trees and what type of trees the city would replace the ash trees with.
"No one knew about the ash borer. Fifteen years later, it's devastated your subdivision and other properties, too," Brush said.
He suggested removing the dead trees first before deciding if they should be replaced.
"We need a better plan in the future, to determine the type of vegetation -- if any -- that should be placed between the street and the sidewalk," he said.
Compton, a landscaper by trade, agreed the city needs more information before planting different trees that could die within a few years.
"We don't want to do the same stupid thing again," Compton said. "It doesn't make sense, moneywise."
Last year, Pataskala spent $14,000 to remove and replace 42 dead ash trees in Brooksedge West, said B.J. King, the city's public service director.
Fox said the city had only budgeted $15,000 for tree replacement this year but the staff has said it will cost $85,000 to replace trees in three subdivisions: Barrington Ridge, Brooksedge and Taylor Glen.
City Council at its meeting Monday, July 1, heard the first reading of an ordinance to appropriate $70,000 to remove and replace the ash trees in all three subdivisions. The funds would be added to the $15,000 already budgeted to hire an outside contractor for the job.
But council on July 1 again tabled the resolution to seek for bids for removal and replacement of the trees. The vote was 6-1 with Bryan Lenzo dissenting.
In other business July 1, council heard a report on local parks by Jeni Ashbrook, president of the city's parks and recreation advisory board.
Ashbrook said she visited the Thomas J. Evans Foundation Park, 10255 McIntosh Road, June 30, and found people with metal detectors digging holes in the soccer fields. She said politely asked them to stop.
In the same field, a dog running loose near the concession stand defecated in the park. She said it was not cleaned up by the owner.
At Freedom Park, at the corner of Taylor and Havens Corners roads, on the same day, she said she found someone dumping sand and dirt from a truck in the parking lot.
Compton told Ashbrook to report the incidents to the police in the future.
Ashbrook also asked council to reevaluate the parks board's role since the city hired a parks coordinator.
Pataskala City Administrator Timothy Boland said the parks coordinator is submitting reports to City Council and he will make sure the reports also are forwarded to the parks board.
Boland said Pataskala Mayor Steve Butcher has arranged a meeting with the board and the coordinator.