Dangerous trees

A city official said the safety department and the tree commission are doing what they can to remove hazardous trees.

Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp was responding to a complaint from a former council member, Roger Kalter, regarding a massive ash tree he believed was a threat to safety in East Muskingum Park, as well as sycamores damaged by city workers.

He said the city has limited resources.

The tree, probably killed by emerald ash borers, loomed over the area where the park gazebo is located. Kalter noted that the tree has been limbed in the past week, decreasing the hazard, but it took since October to get the work done. Meanwhile, events such as concerts and plays have been held at the gazebo.

“That’s just asking for it, with storms and winds we’ve had. It’s wonderful that it’s been limbed and it’s safer now. Perl (Totman) can get back to work on his carving, but he was ready to go last October,” Kalter said Monday.

Totman is an artist who is carving reliefs into the stumps of the dead ash trees. He has completed one carving of a pioneer and has started work on another one, but stopped because he was concerned about the weakened state of the tree and the danger from potentially falling limbs.

Hupp set the city began setting aside money several years ago to deal with ash trees killed by borers, but the sheer number of trees the city has to deal with forces it to set priorities.

The city recently cut down four ash trees in East Muskingum Park, he noted, but doesn’t have adequate equipment to get rid of the bigger one, which means the job will have to wait for a contractor or an AEP crew.

Ellie La Follette, a retired Christmas tree farm operator, is a member of the city’s tree commission.

“We’re getting them down as fast as we can, but that ash borer thing hit us right where we live,” she said. “We have limited funds, and the equipment we have is not always up to scale for the really big trees. We have to wait for Greg Black (Black’s Tree Service) or AEP, and that can hold things up.”

La Follette said the commission has an operating system in which the members are sent emails or written notifications about hazardous trees and then go out to look at them in person. A report is then sent to Todd Stockel, the city’s street department foreman.

“Stuff comes up all the time, and we deal with it as fast as we can,” she said.

Kalter, who was on the tree commission at one time, also noted that five sycamore trees planted in East Muskingum Park two years ago were damaged recently by mowing crews. The bark at the base of the trees was girdled, which means they inevitably will die, he said.

La Follette said the commission was aware of that damage and had a meeting with the crew that was responsible.

“They won’t do it again,” she said. “They were called on the carpet very firmly.”

La Follette said the commission does important work because the health of the trees is critical to the beauty of Marietta.

“It’s a magnificent undertaking and a great job to have,” she said. “This is a beautiful city, and that’s mostly because of the trees.”

The commission meets the first Tuesday of every month at 4:15 p.m. in the third floor conference room at 304 Putnam St. Notification of a tree problem can be submitted through a form at the commission’s page on the city’s website at mariettaoh.net.