Sunday, August 5, 2012

Update on Saturday's Streetscape Discussion

I attended the streetscape meeting at the Emporium yesterday afternoon (Sat.).  About 30-40 villagers were in attendance. Notables who were not there were JAFA Girls Corrine and Nancy, intrepid protester Elizabeth Price, and Village Manager Laura Curliss, who supplied a comprehensive report on the project, which is available in the meeting packet on the Village Council website. Village Council members Lori Askelund and Karen Wintrow did attend. Local attorney Ellis Jacobs moderated.

For the most part, the conversation was respectful and orderly. Of course, there was no consensus about any aspect of the project, but there seemed to be some resignation amongst the tree-hugging element that the Bradford pears will be going and there seemed to be a preference that it happen in a graduated fashion, rather than all at once.

One surprise: Lori Askelund admitted that Council screwed up in not having a public dialogue before announcing expanded plans for the Xenia Ave. project, and attributed this to time pressures occasioned by the short construction season and contractual commitments already entered into with the company that is doing the sidewalks. Reading between the lines, it seems that the arrival of the new village manager, who assessed the situation and encouraged council to move forward with a more comprehensive project, brought the situation on.

The bottom line is that their will be no decision made by Village Council until Monday, Aug. 20. There will be more discussion at tomorrow night's council meeting.

My notes on the various comments:

Make downtown better for visitors. Bike racks should be near shops.

Cost of trees and watering a concern – current trees are fine.

Trees look fine – favors slow replacement as necessary.

Compare Bradford pears to honeysuckle.

Macy Reynolds, master gardener and member of the tree committee: Bradford pears were supposed to be sterile, but became fertile when exposed to other pears. Killing them is difficult. If you simply cut them down, they shoot out runners similar to what locusts do. You can’t kill them with Roundup, have to use Garlon II. A general caution: Trees younger than ten years need 10 gallons of water a week in this drought.

Don’t blame the trees for the sidewalks.

Suggestion for tree replacement – woody vines in an attractive frame.

This is a solution looking for a problem.

A sustainable solution for street light replacement would be to have solar powered lighting.

Sidewalks can be fixed piecemeal as necessary, allowing for gradual tree replacement.

Disagree that Bradford pears are a invasive species. The trees are doing well.

Bradford pears are popping up in the Glen.

Street trees don’t live long. These trees have lived three times longer than normal. There is a danger as they get older that they might fall over.

The community has been deprived of input on this project.

Dayton street is an example of how a project like this can turn out. Dayton Street needs trees.

Paul Cooper: The trees on Xenia Avenue are rotten like a mouthful of bad teeth.

Look at the streetscape project in Fairborn to see the mess and inconvenience we will go through – and for how long this kind of project takes.

Bike racks should be close to the shops for convenience.

Instead of biking, you can walk or bike to a bike rack at some other location and walk the rest of the way.

Lori Askelund: Council started the sidewalk project from Friends Care to downtown by ordinance as a first step. The new village manager came on board after the downtown part of the sidewalk repair had been contracted and started thinking holistically. While there is not enough money available for a holistic streetscape approach in infrastructure funds, there is a reserve in the electrical fund. So, if burying the electrical lines is a part of the overall project, that frees up those funds to be used. Village Council considers not only the efficiency of projects, but also people’s feelings. She has been hurt by signs that equate the tree removal with horrific acts of inhumanity. She agrees that the public process should have happened sooner and attributes the way the project was conceived without it to the short construction season and the fact that they were under contractual obligations for the sidewalk repair. This was not a nefarious plot. We screwed up. But, the final decision has not been made. If people would control the rhetoric, it would make our job easier.

Karen Wintrow: Five trees would be coming out anyway. Hearing from the tree committee and botanists sealed the deal. The construction should be done all at once in order to save money. There is a demonstration replacement tree in front of the emporium. The council meeting on Monday, Aug. 6 is for discussion. The decision will not be made until the council meeting on Aug. 20.

Lori Askelund: All the experts agree – Bradford pears are bad.

Karen Wintrow: Solar powered streetlights have not been eliminated. We don’t want to make downtown look like The Greene. The vast majority of the merchants support this project. There will be long-term planning for how to handle tree replacement in the future. The plan is to include different varieties of trees. This project has to happen in 2012, due to the commitment to the sidewalk project.


As we were leaving the Emporium, I was struck by the obstacle course of bicycles all over the sidewalk.


Anonymous said...

hum, notable ;) not sure why we should have been there Virgil, but I am happy there is a community discussion with valuable input from all sides (including tree experts) and issues about funding. Helps to make a more informed decision. I look forward to the Glen and the Tree committee's sharing their public campaign educating the public about phasing out this pesky tree from the WHOLE village.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Virgil, for the report.