Progress on the proposed Tinsley Park dog park has been delayed amid concerns for plans to cut down 20 pine trees.
The Cleveland Shade Tree Board met Tuesday to discuss why the issue had not come before the board for approval.
Chair Amy Banks said the board had not been notified. There had not been good communication on the project.
“There has been very minor discussion about where it was going to be out there and what was going to happen to help create this park,” Banks said.
Plans for a dog park were approved by the Cleveland City Council in February. In the plan, the need to cut down 20 pine trees was mentioned. No one at the meeting expressed disapproval.
“Really the tree board did not have any involvement in this,” Banks said.
She said she had the impression it would only be a few small trees that would be cut.
“I had no idea where this was,” said Vice Mayor George Poe. “I knew they were talking about a dog park … but a lot of times we don’t know and I feel left out, even on voting.”
The board had received an email Friday letting them know the trees were scheduled to come down on Monday. The City Council was shown pictures of the trees to be cut Monday during a meeting in which the main discussion was leasing Waterville Golf Course.
Cutting down the trees was delayed until the tree board could meet Tuesday. Banks said she had not seen the email and was made aware of the situation by Mary Ruth Younger.
Younger, a Cleveland resident, saw the large Xs spray-painted on the tree trunks and stood by them in an attempt to keep them from being cut down.
“I was a little surprised at the size of the trees,” Banks said.
The trees are estimated to be 70 years old.
“I’m for the dog park, but I’m going to tell you if you have any money and you waste all your money cutting these trees down, it would be easier to put it somewhere else,” said businessman Allan Jones, who wrote the city’s original shade tree ordinance.
Urban Forester Dan Hartman said a contract had been secured to grind the stumps. The rest of the work would be done by the city.
Infrastructure and design for the park are being funded through private donations to the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County.
“Item one of the (City Council’s) passed resolution … conditions was to remove the trees,” Berry said.
He said the mayor and some of the city councilmen had met with proponents of the dog park on the proposed site, so they did know the exact location of the site.
He explained planners wanted the park close to the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway and parking.
Design work has already begun with John Sheehan, who is organizing the project, having funded $40,000 worth of designs.
Jones said dogs prefer a shady area anyway, so “I’m not sure why the trees and the dogs can’t go together.”
“Mary Ruth, you have helped save this grove and I appreciate that,” Jones said.
Ben Berry of Berry Engineers explained the shade from the pine trees will keep the grass from growing, and then the dog park would become simply mud. A thick Bermuda grass is proposed for planting on the site.
The site is prone to flooding, and fill dirt will be brought in to elevate the ground. Berry said this would be harmful to the tees anyway so they needed to be removed.
Berry pointed out the dog park plan calls for trees to be planted on the perimeter of the park.
Jones said the issue should have come before the tree board before it was considered by the City Council.
“Why would we even have a tree board if don’t give notice for something like this?” Jones said.
Jones said there needs to be public notice of what trees are planned for removal.
“What I was appalled by, was nobody knew what was going on,” Jones said.
Relocating the park was also discussed.
Jones suggested the park be relocated to a field behind The Teen Learning Center.
This field has been designated by the Cleveland Board of Education as the location for a walking trail and exercise area for students. Discussion at a recent site committee meeting approved asking for donations for trees to be planted on the site.
Shade tree members were not ready to make a decision on the pine trees on Tuesday. They have scheduled a meeting for Monday to decide their fate.
Banks seemed hopeful an alternative site could be found where the already-developed plan could be implemented.
To keep such lack of notice from occurring again, an amendment to the shade tee ordinance was approved by the board and will be considered by the Cleveland City Council at a later date.
The amendment sets a 15-day notice with a sign and X on the tree for the removal for public trees more than 5 inches in diameter.
The sign would have the phone number for the urban forester for people to lodge complaints. The urban forester would post a picture of the tree in question on the city of Cleveland’s website for the public to see. The issue would be reviewed in a meeting by the tree board, which will make a decision.
If the board does not approve the removal of the tree, the person asking for removal would have 10 days to appeal the decision to the Cleveland City Council.
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