Residents to get written apologies after city gives trees severe trimsThe Jamestown city engineer’s office will be issuing written apologies to property owners where boulevard trees were harshly pruned this fall. The action was the result of the Jamestown Public Works Committee meeting Thursday.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown city engineer’s office will be issuing written apologies to property owners where boulevard trees were harshly pruned this fall. The action was the result of the Jamestown Public Works Committee meeting Thursday.
“The buck stops here,” said Reed Schwartzkopf, city engineer. “If there needs to be formal apologies it will come out of my office with my signature.”
The issue arose when several property owners challenged the city’s effort at trimming branches of boulevard trees that extended into the street.
“This tree has been butchered,” said Dann Holm, southeast Jamestown resident. “An apology is one thing but restitution is another. You send out people to butcher trees just because you didn’t have anything else to do.”
Other city residents also voiced concerns.
“An 80-foot silver maple got all hacked,” said Robert Eckman. “When I turned to call Vern Quam (city forester) to ask how it should be trimmed he cut the tree.”
Eckman said the branches that were cut were well above the height of any snow removal equipment the city uses.
Other property owners reported damage to multiple trees.
“I have two really nice half trees,” said Doug Pieske. “Too bad I can’t make one good tree.”
Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen reminded residents that trees planted on the boulevard are city property.
“We do owe Mr. Holm an apology for the treatment of his trees,” she said. “But I would feel uncomfortable replacing trees.”
Holm had a different idea.
“You don’t have to replace my trees,” he said. “Just let me trim the trees at the Law Enforcement Center and at City Hall. I would get a lot of help from people doing that.”
The committee agreed to implement a policy where the city would not trim boulevard trees in the future but inform property owners if any trees needed to be trimmed.
The Public Works Committee also heard a request from six businesses along Business Loop East for a property tax exemption. The request was based on losses to the businesses due to construction on the streets of the area this past summer.
“We’re all starting over down there,” said Dale Redinger, owner of S & R Truck Plaza. “When a new business starts you give them a tax break.”
Dr. Gary Peterson, owner of Prairie Veterinary Hospital, said his revenue loss could approach $50,000 between construction done in 2011 and the work left to be done in 2012.
“We’re asking for tax abatements for five years,” he said. “That is a reasonable request and quite in line with what the city does for new businesses.”
The committee tabled the request asking the city attorney to explore the issue.
“I don’t know of any authority for tax abatements for this type of issue,” said Ken Dalsted, city attorney.
In other business, the Jamestown Fire Committee approved a request by LeAnn Buckley to hold fundraising events for the purpose of raising money for a remote operated vehicle or ROV for local emergency responders.
Buckley is related to Darrin Ackerman, who was killed in an accident on Jamestown Reservoir in December. An ROV on loan from Fargo was used to recover his body from under the ice.
“We lost Darrin Ackerman in December,” she said. “We feel that if we had our own ROV we could have found him sooner. Those eight days were horrible.”
Ackerman did not return from an ice fishing trip on Dec. 4. His body was not recovered until Dec. 12.
The ROV model being considered by the Jamestown Fire Department costs between $70,000 and $75,000. The department currently has a $25,000 grant that might be applied to the ROV costs leaving about $45,000 to be raised.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org