The Union Park Advisory Board has requested the removal of a large oak tree next to the city’s sand volleyball courts.
In April, Union Junior volleyball coach Dan Heatson told the Ladycats that tree branches were falling on the pitches and causing problems. He showed on the board a box full of sticks and acorns taken from the court, near K-9-n-Kiddos Dog Park.
Heatson said the branches can cause injuries and promised to plant three new trees in the park system if the tree is removed by the courts.
After discussing the tree in April and May, the council voted unanimously on June 24 to keep the tree in place.
Park board members were initially sympathetic to Hittson, but when members who had not attended in April were at the May meeting, that began to change. In addition, several members visited the park area and spoke to residents prior to the June meeting and came back more convinced of the need to stay.
Board member Christian Dunn said he’s spoken to about 50 people, and only one has had a problem with the tree.
Other park board members agreed.
“I just think the optics are bad here. The City of Trees has a big, beautiful, mature oak tree in a city park; it provides nice shade,” said board member Jeff Watson. “I just wouldn’t support removing it.”
Chairman Susie Cornot said it could set a precedent.
Parks manager Chad Pullman said the city is using summer ground maintenance workers to light and water its sand volleyball fields before Friday night’s league game to calm the sand.
He said the walnut pieces become visible after he wets the field. “I don’t think they would hurt anyone. They may be uncomfortable on their feet, but I don’t think there are major complaints.”
Curnutte said she was surprised that the city makes its way and hoses its stadiums on a daily basis, when sports teams are often in charge of setting up their own stadiums.
Once seasonal workers return to school, Pullman said, the city will likely return to the playground once a week.
Had the park council voted to cut down the tree, Pullman said the decision would have needed final approval from the council. But no further approval is needed because no policy change has been made.
However, Pullman said Hutson is welcome to go to council members with his concerns.