At the last two city council meetings, the issue of trees vs. business in downtown Price was a hot topic of discussion.
In December, Robert Finn appeared before Price city officials with a request to trim or cut down a tree that blocks his business sign. Apparently, Finn purchased the former Century Cafe and Cork's Club and is currently remodeling the business.
Finn plans on opening the business as a restaurant and sports bar. However, he explained to the council that a tree is growing too close to the sign and marquee at the site. Finn agreed to cover the expense of removing the tree. He also agreed to pay the Price Shade Tree Commission enough money to plant six additional trees in other spots in the city.
On Jan. 8, city officials were faced with an unrelated request to remove a tree at 100 East Main Street in front of the former Chelsy's Manor, purchased by Dan and Christy Decker. The couple's bike shop will move around the corner.
The tree in question is healthy, with a trunk that is more than nine inches in diameter and about 15 years old. It is located on the east side of the main entrance.
Decker told the council that the tree would block the sign he plans to erect above a canopy that runs the entire length of the business. Not only will the tree block a portion of the business, but it will make it difficult to erect the sign, contended Decker.
Mayor Joe Piccolo assured the Deckers that it is the desire of the council to keep downtown Price a viable part of the community.
"We want to do everything we can to support the downtown businesses in their efforts to grow," commented the mayor.
Councilwoman Liz Kourianos presented the shade tree panel's opinion on how the matter should be handled. During the last 15 years, Kourianos and prior council members have strived to create an attractive downtown.
"We feel that, in order for our downtown to be successful, we need to plan, design and install streetscape improvements, which include trees. Downtown has a distinctive character and its our intent to enhance the district through a comprehensive business plan which includes landscape architecture," noted Kourianos.
In the discussion, the council wrestled to balance an attractive downtown and the need for businesses to succeed, which includes sufficient space to display signs and merchandise.
In a three to two vote, the council decided that the tree will stay, but be trimmed to accommodate at least a portion of the sign. Cemetery manager Lyle Bauer supervised the tree trimming project Thursday morning.
The ordinance for the shade tree commission states that the city reserves the right to plant, prune, maintain and remove trees, plants, shrubs within the boundaries of all streets.
Members gathered Friday at the commission's regular monthly meeting. The discussion centered around the council's decision regarding the tree.
The group discussed the volunteers who were selected to represent the committee. The committee is made up of Lyle Bauer, supervisor responsible for the city cemetery and all public parkways; Sam White, utilities supervisor for Price city, who is part of the panel to assist with tree placement as to potential interference with utilities; Eric Allred, Doc Alcarez and Art Daniels, all community volunteers; along with Kourianos, who is the assigned council member. Members were selected by willingness to serve the city, an expertise or interest in shade tree education and places of residence to represent the community as a whole.
"We are a city service designed to educate the public in the importance of trees and their inherent value to their environment as well as their property," said Kourianos. "We will provide educational materials for the public."
Kourianos reminded people that there is a pick up box of pamphlets in the lobby of city hall that contains several educational brochures.
The commission also makes house calls for recommendations on what type of tree is best for the location. Considerations include size, color, height and placement in relation to utilities and energy savings, correct method of planting, drought resistance, diagnoses of diseased trees and recommendations on trimming.
Tree trimmers licensed for city work are informed of ANSI standards and approved to trim within Price under the guidelines.
"If you question whether the contractor you are having trim is aware of these standards, you may check with the shade tree commission," explained Kourianos.
Price officials prefer that people have the city trim trees in park strips in front of private property. But the city trims on a rotational basis. Residents with safety concerns needing attention should contact the shade tree commission to evaluate and recommend immediate attention. If the situation involves a danger like a hanging limb, residents should report it to the city immediately.