At Tuesday night's Conservation Advisory Council meeting, the members of the CAC, the terms of some of whom have expired, talked about goals for the new year. Britt Zuckerman said she wanted a Parks Department in the city with the expertise to care for the parks as well as the street trees. She argued, "We cannot rely on volunteers to maintain the parks. We cannot rely on property owners to plant street trees."
Hilary Hillman expressed the desire to adopt a tree ordinance and establish a Tree Board. She noted that the previous day three apparently healthy trees had been cut down on lower Union Street and explained that a Tree Board would review requests to remove trees to prevent unnecessary loss of street trees.
Marie Balle suggested that a Parks Department could also handle the care and maintenance of street trees and manage other public spaces, including the cemetery.
Maija Reed, who was recently reappointed as Youth Commissioner, said she wanted a Parks and Recreation Department, which seemed an unusual request since it would seem a Parks and Recreation Department would eliminate the need for a Youth Department.
Neither adopting a tree ordinance and a Tree Board nor creating a Parks Department is a new idea. Both have been around for a decade or more. The question is: Will either of these things ever actually happen? A tree ordinance is a distinct possibility. It would cost the City virtually nothing, and a draft of such an ordinance already exists. A Parks and Recreation Department is different issue. Can a city of fewer than 6,000 inhabitants with a very small tax base afford another taxpayer funded department? It would seem only possible by cobbling together portions of the current budgets for the Department of Public Works and the Youth Department to fund the new department.
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