By Karen Cornelius
Vermilion Tree Commission chairman John Hill addressed Vermilion City Council on Monday night, November 6. His year-end report was an update on all the commission’s activities during 2017 showing many successful accomplishments including the removal of about half the 130 city trees noted as at-risk causing problems for people and property.
“I want to emphasize it was an exceptional year due to the support from the community and city council,” said Hill. “The tree commission greatly appreciates the high level of enthusiasm, financial support, and improved communication by our council and city personnel.” Council had allocated $20,000 to the commission for 2017 to move toward their mission of having a safe, healthy, and sustainable urban forest within the city for residents, businesses, and visitors to enjoy.
Hill stated that they removed 24 at-risk trees in 2017 coupled with the 27 removed in 2016 to account for almost half the trees documented as dangers for life, limb, and property. All the stumps were removed by Edwards Tree Services covered by the commission’s budget. He said the commission has a ten-year plan and in this first year they are ahead of schedule. We’re proud of reducing the trees at risk. That was our emphasis,” said Hill.
More good news is the planting of 42 new trees on city tree lawns this fall coupled with the 49 new tree plantings in 2016. With the help of Main Street Vermilion and Vermilion in Bloom there were seven trees planted on Main Street. There was also a project completed on Elizabeth and Guilford streets with nine new trees paid for by homeowners with the planting cost by Don Moulds covered by the Vermilion Tree Commission. The Vermilion Fire Department also paid for and planted three trees at the corner of Berkley and Overlook. The Vermilion Port Authority planted two trees at the South Street Boat Ramp, and the Vermilion Rotary Club paid for and planted one Red Oak at Victory Park.
In addition to the funding from the city, the commission has received Erie County and Dorn grants of $5,700, Parks Board support for $537 for Sherod Park, and private donations of $5,000. The commission notes 600 planting sites in the city are open for trees in the future. Looking to 2018, the commission is working with the “Bridge-to-Bridge” concept of connecting businesses and properties along Liberty Avenue by trees and landscaping to improve the aesthetics. There is also a possible Indian Ridge Planting Project similar to the Guilford-Elizabeth streets project completed in 2017. Hill stated that plantings and removals for 2018 will be based on similar 2017 monies by the city.
The Vermilion Tree Commission further plans on applying for the city’s sixth “Tree City USA” award. The application will be submitted by December. “It’s just a nice achievement for the city,” said Hill. He added the volunteer members serving on the commission celebrated Arbor Day with plantings at Romp’s with the Boy Scouts on April 30, 2017. They attended the Gardener’s Fair on April 29 as well, and held a tree trimming training activity on August 25 with 42 attending. The commission’s “Tree-mendous Tree Tips” column will continue in the Vermilion Photojournal monthly with information and advice for residents written by Mike Klein. Other members in addition to Hill and Klein are Mary Moes, Tim Costello, and Jerry Western with ex-officio member Dana Corogin, parks supervisor.
Council president Steve Herron thanked the commission and stated he liked Arbor Day because Vermilion High School students were involved as well as the Boy Scouts which was educational. Councilman Jim Forthofer said the commission’s network mapping of all the city trees was amazing and he wished they had one like it for streets. Councilman Brian Holmes said the trees planted on the tree lawns of the new homes on Elizabeth/Guilford really helped the area. Councilwoman Barb Brady stated that the commission only works with city trees in the right-of-ways but she asked if they still would help with calls for residents with questions. “We welcome opportunities to educate and support people,” said Hill. “We represent the city.” Brady agreed they are a resource for citizens.
Councilman Frank Loucka led a round of applauses for the tree commission’s successful year.