Dave Wallace: Have a safe summer
May 17, 2018
It is rather obvious spring has reached our little corner of the state. The berry bushes and apple trees are blooming with their whites and pinks, generously emitting a fragrance as pleasant as fine perfume. The streets and parks have become active with adults and youngsters out walking and biking while stripping off those winter blues. Sounds of laughter and cheering can be heard for blocks as the soccer fields, ball parks and swimming pool will soon be full of our community's youngsters and parents enjoying the dog days of summer.
Yes, indeed, spring has sprung.
In January, our city government awarded a contract to a consulting group to study the community's recreational areas and provide an agenda for future improvements and expansion, with hopes of attracting a greater number of visitors to this area. And, of course, our community residents will enjoy these additions as well. The cost of this consulting service was $77,000. I attended the presentation the firm put on last week and was far from impressed, as it basically consisted of gathering information from the public. Now, I agree, public opinion is very beneficial and necessary to establish a general perspective of what the residents want, but this information can be collected for free.
I find it rather troubling when I see our city spending thousands of dollars on recreational expansion plans, when, only last year, we were led to believe the city had no money and was considering shutting down some of our recreational facilities. How in the world can we expect to maintain additional facilities and areas when we can't safely maintain the ones we have?
This leads to my main concern: How do we justify spending $77,000 on recreational consultants when we can't find several thousand dollars to assure the safety of you and your children. Several times during the last couple years, I contacted the city and expressed concerns in and around our parks, specifically pointing out the hazards associated with some of the large trees. My last request was during a City Council meeting last year.
Through the years, many large, dead limbs have been dislodged from the city park trees, including an entire tree that was blown over near the volleyball lot last year. Thank God nobody was under these when they impacted the ground. Last week, another tree was blown over near the tennis court, and once again, we were fortunate no one was injured.
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These hazards continue to exist; several of the large trees have many dead branches looming overhead. These branches are not coming back to life — they will come to the ground sooner or later, and trees with internal rot will be blown over. Unless these hazards are trimmed out and removed, we can only pray they don't come down on someone.
Many families seek shade under these trees during the summer months, completely unaware of the overhead hazard. Since I have yet to see any proactive measures by the city, I am asking community residents to be aware of these hazards and make your children aware of them, as well. If we can't eliminate these hazards, it is best to avoid them.
I also ask community residents to consider permanent speed reduction on all streets bordering parks and school yards. Children occupy these areas year-round and, quite frequently, dart into the street after a ball or on a bicycle. Speed reduction in these areas should not only be inacted and inforced during certain hours, it should be 365 days per year. Enjoy your summer, and be safe.