The City Council *unanimously* passed a motion last night to
1) establish a revolving account for tree planting
2) establish a committee to oversee expenditures from this fund, and
3) reiterate a previous statement that the city should cease posting signs on trees and remove all currently posted signs.
Councilor Lungo-Koehn initiated the motion, including only the first provision, and Councilors Camuso (? - I couldn't see clearly) and Marks suggested the additional provisions.
The revolving fund will enable residents and businesses to contribute funds to the city for the express purpose of tree planting and maintenance. It would also enable the city to implement a cost-sharing program in the future - a public-private partnership that would stretch the city's dollar and enhance private awareness/commitment to caring for our public resources.
The committee, as defined in this motion, will serve the "narrow" purpose of overseeing expenditures from the fund. But this gets the foot in the door. Planning for tree planting and maintenance is an important function that is not currently carried out in the city - which may encompass maintaining an inventory, establishing planting and maintenance guidelines, and prioritizing work that needs to be done, and fundraising through grants and promoting partnership programs. Moreover, this committee's functions can be expanded to fulfill the broader vision of a Tree Committee as we have been discussing with the Mayor and the Tree Warden.
The statement regarding posting of signs - unfortunately uneffective when it was last brought up a few years ago (as some Councilors pointed out), is to bring the city in compliance with Chapter 87, as well as to convey the message that the city cares for its trees. Implementation of this measure would depend on the commitment of the Public Works department to revise its practices, as well as budget being allocated to provide sign posts where they are currently missing.
Councilor Marks mentioned concerns about the drastic pruning by utilities last year. I pointed out that this concern, as well as the sign posting, are indicative of the need for staff capacity in the city's tree department to better manage these issues. This being beyond the scope of the motion passed last night, the Council should nevertheless be aware of the need for additional resources.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Medford City Council establishes tree committee, fund
From Roberta Cameron, who has championed this for literally years!