Village pondering public park use; dead tree removal

By Louise Swartzwalder - Bellville Star

BELLVILLE – Village officials are working with a consultant to formulate ideas for best use of local parks.

Jim Dziatkowicz, director of Planning and Landscape Architecture at EMH&T, a Columbus firm, visited with council at Tuesday’s meeting, where he told members of the parks committee it is up to locals to decide how to use park areas.

“Why do you want to do it?” Dziatkowicz asked, referring to how the village must decide on purposes in parks.

Committee member Vic Swisher said Palm Park is considered a nature-oriented park. Some improvements have been made there, but many opportunities lie at that site to provide more services, he said.

Dziatkowicz said his group has a process that includes collecting data, considers citizen participation, looks at concepts and costs and uses those steps to figure out what a town or village can do next. He said that could be a 60-day process for Bellville.

Committee member Josh Epperson said many conversations have been had about how to better use Palm Park.

Swisher said; “if you have a good idea, do you keep it up?”

He mentioned having a splash park. The parks areas could also be rented out for parties, he said.

Dziatkowicz said companies which build splash parks are all in Canada. Those parks can be constructed in a number of fashions. One question to be answered is whether people want the water to be cold or warm.

He also asked whether people had considered putting in a zip line.

Mayor Teri Brenkus showed a flyer which has drawings of bright playground equipment. One group she was showing would fit into a location at Palm Park.

Epperson said equipment at Palm Park should not duplicate that put in at the new Bellville elementary school building. That playground does not yet exist because construction there has just been completed.

Dziatkowicz said information should go out to the public as “teasers,” so people can talk about what could be coming.

A game called “pickle ball” is big among older people, said village administrator Larry Weirich, who added that is a type of exercise that is “good for old people.”

Dziatkowicz said he would put together a package and bring it back to the committee.

Village council members, at their meeting that followed the committee meeting, passed as an emergency measure an ordinance dealing with diseased and dead trees in the village.

Solicitor Sarah Mussman read the ordinance, which specifies how a tree can be deemed dead or diseased. Under the ordinance, information would go to the Shade Tree Commission, which could then notify a property owner that he or she has 30 days to remove the tree. This applies only to trees located on private property.

If the property owner cannot remove the tree after 120 days, the village could remove it and the cost would be assessed to the property owner. This cost would be reflected in an amount placed on a tax bill by the county auditor.

Swisher said people would be told “it would be in their best interest to take care of this, right?”

Under standard procedure, three readings are required of a proposed ordinance. After the third reading it takes 30 days for an ordinance to go into effect.

Council member Stephen Edwards there are two or three specific trees that currently are of concern.

He said “residents are complaining” and the village has a problem because there are many “old growth trees.”

Mussman said the provision still would be 120 days from being valid for enforcement purposes.

Council elected Swisher president pro tempore. This position places one member in a slot where he or she can take over if the mayor must be absent.

By Louise Swartzwalder

Bellville Star