Thursday, January 6, 2022

New Year's Goals: New Department, New Board

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. 


  1. A tree board is necessary. In the midst of a climate catastrophe, not a single tree should be removed unnecessarily, and certainly not unless it is replaced by one or more trees. Cutting a street tree without a permit should be a criminal offense.

  2. How does Ms. Reed plan to pay for a Parks and Recreation department?

  3. Unfortunately, in another 5 or 10 years we will be rehashing these same issues. It's the dysfunction at City Hall that allows the status quo to continue. The lack of money doesn't help either.
    Ideally, the DPW should be split up into a Water Dept, a Streets Dept, and a Parks and Trees Dept. There is simply too much going on and too much being ignored for Rob Perry Jr to deal with. He doesn't give a hoot if a sidewalk tree gets unnecessarily cut down. B Huston

  4. It's a simple fix, you do not have to change anything. Pass a law protecting trees and requiring a permit from code enforcement to cut a tree down within city limits. If you cut down a tree without a permit, a substantial fine would be enough of a deterrent.

    1. Code enforcement has enough issues around town they are unable to enforce, adding another one would only make everything less enforced.

  5. It amazes me how people just like to poke their nose in other people's business without knowing what is really going on. In that photo, it is quite apparent that the root bulb is forcing the sidewalk to heave in which the sidewalk is the building owner's responsibility. It is the homeowner along with the city who will be named in the suit if someone were to trip and suffer damages. The homeowner also has to shovel the sidewalk, maintain it and repair and/or replace. A lot of people enjoy placing their hands on the wooden spoon when in fact the individual is more than likely taking part in doing the right thing and removing the tree and probably in the process of correcting an issue before something worse were to happen. It is nice that people are concerned about trees, but I really think that there are much more important issues at hand then to worry about someone else's tree. Maybe economic growth and long-term sustainability to create jobs and solid tax revenue streams to lessen the tax burden on the property owners would be a good start? Commitee's or throwing money at issues does not solve problems. Mind you, forget the grants for the ones with hands reaching under the table and the taxpayer gets fed hot air!