By Rick Palsgrove
Groveport has consistently been named a Tree City USA and city officials aim to maintain that tradition by instituting a program to protect its city-owned trees.
The city has a large number of old, tall trees that enhance the beauty of its streetscape. But older trees also can get sick as they age and present a danger, such as last May when a spring storm uprooted a big tree along Front Street that crushed a Groveport Police cruiser (the police officer was unhurt). After that incident, city officials and an arborist examined old trees on Front Street, and other surrounding streets, and targeted the weaker trees for removal.
Now the city has plans to create an annual tree inspection and maintenance program to protect the town’s city-owned historic trees, as well as younger ones, that line its streets.
“When Brian Strayer was hired as public services director, one of the first projects we discussed was the creation of an annual (tree program),” said Groveport City Administrator B.J. King. “We agreed on the importance of having a memorialized program, especially with the issues we dealt with this year related to trees on Front Street.”
King said the goal of the program is to conduct regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance of city-owned trees to mitigate any potential hazards.
“We will work to GPS locate city-owned trees, which will also include data about inspections and maintenance,” said King.
Groveport City Councilman Ed Dildine, who is also council’s representative on the city’s trees and decorations committee, said, “I think it’s a great start to something we have never done on a regular basis. It will give us a starting point and we can expand it from there. The large historical trees are part of the scenic beautiful history of Groveport and are a priority to make sure we can maintain them, but we need to make sure they are safe.”
Dildine said Main, Front, Elm, Blacklick, and Church streets are the core of old Groveport “and have the best examples of the historical trees.”
King said the tree program will be funded from the city’s street fund budget.
“The street fund is funded from income tax collections,” said King. “Additionally, the city has a tree fund in the budget. The tree fund can only be used to replace street trees located in subdivisions. In the street fund there is $16,000 budgeted for this program in 2021.”
When asked who the arborist will be that the city will use, King said that is still to be determined as he and the Public Services Department are working on options.
About the proposed tree program
A draft proposal of the tree inspection and maintenance program was presented to Groveport City Council for its review.
The plans goals are to: maintain the health of all city owned trees; plant or replant the largest suitable tree for the site selected; and maintain a fully stocked urban forest.
The plan’s strategies include: performing routine health and hazard assessments of all city-owned trees; removing or pruning for safety all dead and hazardous trees each year; quick response to requests for service; planting a diverse population of trees and replant removed trees each planting season; plant species and placement of trees with aesthetic properties such as summer and fall color and shape; ongoing routine inventory and evaluation of all city-owned trees; routine hazard assessment; conducting Arbor Day activities; and coordinating with the city’s tree and decorations committee.
According to the proposed plan, “Trees, when healthy and vigorous, provide tremendous value to the community. Proactive maintenance reduces costs and helps keep trees healthy. Large trees provide more benefits than small trees and should be prioritized when space allows. This will provide the most benefit for the community.”