The downtown beautification project along Lithia Way is moving along nicely. A new street light pole and park row will be installed in the block between Oak Street and Pioneer Street in front of the gas station. The project will start Monday, May 11, and should be completed by the end of May. This new installation will include an irrigation line so when we add flower baskets they will not have to be watered by hand. Additionally, with the cooperation of the Parks Department, we were able to incorporate three significant planter beds into the design to go along with street trees and the new light pole. We are finally at a point where we believe that this has evolved into a true beautification project.
You may recall that at the December 2 and December 16, 2014 Council meetings, Council discussed the lack of compliance with the Food and Beverage tax ordinance by food vendors at the Growers and Crafters Market. We’re happy to report that after the first month of operation this year, the Growers and Crafters Market food vendors are complying and have made their first monthly payments.
Here is a link to an interesting article regarding the long-term impact of our current drought and the need to transition from the old “snow as storage” model to other strategies for providing water in the future. Reeder Reservoir, by the way, is still 100% full and we still have about 9 million gallons a day coming in, although Ashlanders have clearly turned on their irrigation systems, as use has climbed to about 3 mgd in the last couple of weeks.
We had a rather small turnout for the Living with Deer and Wildlife summit (pictured below) on April 28th; 25 people. However, I received many positive comments afterwards and we plan to make the Master Gardener presentation from the summit a regular class in the Parks and Rec catalog. If there was one consistent theme in the presentations by OSU Extension, ODFW and the Master Gardener, it was: Don’t feed the deer!
Public Works Department
This week the Cemetery Division of Public Works began replacing some of the trees lost to the Western Pine Beetle. Over the winter, nine trees were removed from Mountain View Cemetery (across the street from Fire Station No. 2, on Ashland Street), all of which were killed by the beetles. Unfortunately, all those trees were very large and thought to be over 100 years old so losing those trees made a significant impact to the landscape of the cemetery. Replacing trees of that age and size has proven to be more difficult than expected. The location where the trees were removed, and where the new ones will be planted, is presenting some challenges. The first challenge is that the remaining trees are very large, creating a shady environment that can be difficult for some tree varieties to survive. To overcome this, Public Works has selected replacement trees based on the expected shadier conditions. These varieties include; Sugar Maples, October Glory, and Fat Albert Spruce (pictured below). An extra bonus in selecting these is that the pine beetles should not affect them in any way.
The second planting challenge is that staff is very mindful of the current drought conditions. Planting trees will require water, and the amount of water available this year could be limited. Rather than just watering the new trees using the sprinklers that water the grass, Public Works purchased ‘Gator Bags’ so water can be applied as carefully and directly to the trees as possible. Gator Bags are designed to go around the trunk of a young tree and slowly release water into the ground to minimize runoff and evaporation. These bags are filled a couple times per week and release water for several hours during the day. This slow release of water allows the water to soak deeper into the ground, encouraging deeper root growth. Trees that are used to getting water from lawn sprinklers tend to have shallower roots. These shallower roots do not cope as well with drought conditions and the trees themselves are more likely to be knocked over by wind than trees with deeper root systems. Staff expects the use of the Gator Bags to promote deeper root growth and to minimize water use while these new trees are established.
Pictured here is a watering bag very similar to the Gator Bags that Public Works purchased.
Unfortunately, it looks like we may lose more trees this year in Mountain View Cemetery. Some of the remaining trees are now showing signs of stress, most likely caused by pine beetles. Several brown spots can be seen throughout the trees. Public Works staff is hoping the trees are strong enough to survive but these are the same symptoms seen in the other trees before they finally died. There are a couple of treatment options for the trees, but from what staff has heard they’re rarely successful and can be fairly expensive, especially in larger trees. Additionally, as the City has stopped using pesticides in our cemeteries, trying some of these treatments would go against those practices.
APD responded to a vandalism spree this week in which 17 windows were smashed. Blood was collected and will be submitted as part of a new forensic program that allows property crime forensic evidence to be submitted with a quicker return than has been seen in the past.
The APD got the following note from one of our cadets. It's not often that a citizen arrested comes back and apologizes for their bad behavior:
"Evan and I were stopped in Will Dodge Way by a lady, she told us she was arrested by an APD officer for DUI. She told us that she was very disrespectful to the officer who was arresting her. She wanted to apologize for the incident and thank that officer for setting her on the right path but didn't know who it was. I told her I would pass on her appreciation. She also wanted to thank the entire department for the work that we do!"
The underside of the Ashland Street overpass (at Clay Street) has been a hangout and home for transients for many years. ODOT has cleaned up the underside of the overpass and will work on fencing it off so APD doesn't have a repeat of the same issues. This should be a big win for the people that live in that area and use that portion of the bike path.