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Council urged to address ash infestation

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The Emerald Ash Borer has arrived in Yellow Springs, and ash trees are dying. But just standing by as they die is not the only option, according to biologist Don Cipollini, who spoke to Village Council at Council’s Aug. 20 meeting.

“I recommend protecting some portion of the ash trees in town,” said Cipollini, a Wright State University professor who is involved in collaborative research ­­— along with the University of Michigan, Ohio University and the U.S. Forestry Service — on the ash tree crisis. “We have a window of opportunity that’s closing fast. We still have plenty of healthy trees.”

Cipollini, who lives in the village, made a presentation to Council on the Emerald Ash Borer at Council’s invitation, and the topic was discussion only, with no action taken.

The invasive beetles, which destroy all white and green ash trees in their path, was first noticed in Detroit in 2002, Cipollini said, and the insects have been working their way south since that time. Millions of ash trees have died since then, and the insect first came to the Dayton area in 2006.

This is the first year that ash tree destruction has been seen in Yellow Springs, Cipollini said.
“The Emerald Ash Tree Borer is here,” he said. “It is firmly entrenched in town.”

Dead or dying ash trees can be seen on the Antioch College campus and alongside U.S. 68 right outside Bryan Community Center, among other places, he said.

However, while several years ago municipalities had no means of saving trees, that has changed, according to Cipollini. A treatment that involves injecting an insecticide into the trunk of trees has proved effective for two to three years, with the possibility that new treatments may be found by then, or the beetle invasion could subside. The trees least likely to be saved are those displaying obvious symptoms of the disease, which include die-back in the tree’s canopy, the presence of exit holes on the trunk (shaped like a “D”), the presence of woodpecker activity and the presence of sprouts on the lower limbs of the tree. He suggested that the Village choose trees located on Village-owned land to save, and also make a plan to cut down dying trees, which can become dangerous because they are brittle.

“We can slow down the number of trees that are dying while we consider what we do,” Cipollini said.

In other Aug. 20 Council business:
• Council held a public hearing on the Northern Gateway project. The project, begun almost 10 years ago, has several goals, including relieving downtown parking congestion and improving bikeability in Yellow Springs, according to Village Manager Laura Curliss. Put on hold for several years due to fiscal constraints, the project is funded by a $275,000 grant from the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, along with $107,000 from the Village, which Council previously approved. The Village will lose the MVRPC grant if it does not move forward with the project soon, Curliss has said.

Components of the project are intersection improvements near the intersection of Dayton Street and U.S. 68; a bike trail extension connecting the Little Miami Scenic Trail with a new 40-50 space parking area on Cemetery Street; improved bike parking closer to the trail; and improved ADA-compliant access to the trail from the Bryan Center, including removal of the ramp to the trail from the Bryan Center parking lot, which is now noncompliant with ADA requirements.

Consulting engineer Kristin Eggeman has completed a Stage 1 design of the project, which is projected to be completed by the end of 2013.

Villager Dan Carrigan of the Bicycle Enhancement Committee was the only villager to speak during the public hearing. Carrigan expressed concerns over the complexity of the planned intersection changes, including whether the changes would render the intersection less safe.

• Council heard a presentation from representatives of John Bryan Community Pottery, because the group holds a lease with the Village for its facilities, and the lease is up for renewal. According to Allison Paul, the center’s manager, the pottery group is currently transitioning to obtaining its 501(c)(3) status, which will “provide more grant-funded educational opportunities for the community, increasing affordability and access to high quality experiences in the ceramic arts.”

Council also heard a proposal from Community Pottery members Bill Mischler and Gail Zimmerman for an alternative administrative structure for the pottery group. The two stated that they felt that JBCP membership was not sufficiently included in decision-making.

• Council unanimously approved the second reading for supplemental appropriations to the Village budget.

• Council unanimously approved the first reading of an interconnection agreement for citizens who produce electric power. The new agreement is needed because more citizens are becoming, through their private solar or wind power systems, producers of electric power, and anyone who desires to connect their residential generating system to the Village electric grid needs to sign an agreement with the Village, according to a memo from Curliss. The proposed agreement is modeled after one used by AMP Ohio.

• Council accepted the resignation of John Chambers as the Village Law Director. Chambers said he is leaving his position because he will be moving to Florida soon, and that Chris Conard of his firm, Coolidge Wall of Dayton, will now be working with the Village. Chambers also recommended that the Village’s new contract with the firm continue its current rate of $165 an hour for legal services.

• In her manager’s report, Curliss stated that street paving for 2012 has been completed, as has all debris pick-up from late June storms.

• Council’s next regular meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. at Council chambers.


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