Urbana’s urban forestry efforts recognized

By Joshua Keeran - [email protected]

With the country set to celebrate Arbor Day later this month, Urbana City Council learned Tuesday that for the 15th consecutive year, the city has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation for its urban forestry management in 2016.

Community Development Manager Doug Crabill, who serves on the Urbana Shade Tree Commission, said $2.60 per resident was put toward the city’s tree program last year, which allowed for the following to take place citywide: The planting of 50 bare root trees; the pruning of 141 young trees along Scioto and East Water streets; the removal of 10 trees and their stumps; and the removal of three additional stumps.

Crabill added one of the city’s newest endeavors – the City of Urbana Memorial Tree Program – led to the planting of 13 memorial trees last year at either Melvin Miller Park or Oak Dale Cemetery.

In keeping with the urban forestry theme, Mayor Bill Bean read a mayoral proclamation during the meeting in which he proclaimed the city’s recognition of Arbor Day on April 28 and urged “all citizens to support the continued efforts to protect our trees and woodlands.”

To commemorate Arbor Day, the city has teamed up with Urbana University – a Tree Campus USA designee – for a tree planting ceremony set for 2:15 p.m. on April 28 near the Moore Center on the UU campus.

“Hopefully, when the new (city) schools are built, we can go back to planting trees at the schools,” Crabill said.

Roundabout project update

By a vote of 6-1 (council member Ray Piper voted no), council agreed to allow Burgess & Niple Inc. to continue moving forward with pre-construction work associated with the Monument Square Roundabout Improvements Project, scheduled to take place in 2019.

“I don’t think all this other work they are doing is going to solve the problem that we have up there,” Piper said.

Council member Dwight Paul, however, said the square is unsafe, and he favors improving the roundabout to make it more pedestrian-friendly.

“In my mind this is really important, so let’s push ahead,” he said.

The $132,718 contract with Burgess & Niple won’t be entirely funded by the city as an Ohio Department of Transportation Highway Safety Grant will cover $51,682.60 of it. The city will cover the remaining costs through money from the Capital Improvement Fund ($61,256.40) and the Water Fund ($19,778.86).

Crabill said the reason for using the Water Fund to help cover the costs of the roundabout project is city officials have decided to have Burgess & Niple handle design work for a water line replacement project in the square.

“The water lines in the downtown are aged,” he said. “We’ve had breaks downtown, so our thought was let’s try to bring water into this project and replace lines in the downtown so that when day one when (the improved roundabout) opens, we don’t have a big break in the square and we are digging stuff up we just built.”

According to Crabill, the water line project would involve the square and a block out in each direction, and the construction work would take place just prior to the roundabout work in 2019.

“It just makes sense logistically to incorporate the water if we can,” he said.

In other business:

•Bean read a mayoral proclamation declaring May 4 as National Day of Prayer in the city.

•Council member Tony Pena reminded the public to abide by the posted road closure signs on the east end of Urbana as construction crews continue work on the U.S. 36 East Improvements Project, which stretches from the U.S. Route 36/state Route 29 split to Lippincott Lane near Walmart.

Crabill said that despite the posted signs aimed at prohibiting thru-traffic, it appears many drivers are using the stretch of roadway with no intent on accessing businesses located within the construction area.

“We haven’t seen much of a decrease in traffic,” he said. “Technically, it’s closed unless you are trying to get to a destination within the construction boundary.”

•Crabill reminded property owners that the city will begin enforcing its tall grass ordinance (10 inches or taller) on May 1. A green notice will be left at properties deemed to be in violation, he added.

If the city abates a tall grass nuisance, the property owner will be charged $75 an hour plus a $25 administrative fee.

By Joshua Keeran

[email protected]

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.

Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.