Saturday, April 21, 2001

Tree fight

Hamilton park road on the way

        When Arbor Day is observed April 27, some Hamilton people will have a difficult time celebrating.

        They have been fighting the city to stop a road that's planned through Millikin Woods. They have even started their own group, the Millikin Woods Preservation Association.

        “One hundred and four trees are now slated for destruction to make way for a planned road,” said Maureen Gallardo, president of the group. “The Audubon Society of Oxford has taken a public stand against the Millikin Woods road for that very reason — to preserve habitat.

        “Needless to say, the organization was ignored by Hamilton City Council, which voted by a 4-3 margin to go ahead with the road. The Sierra Club and Citizens for Historic Preservation Services also voiced opposition, citing environmental concerns.”

        She said many of the 104 trees are healthy and mature — “almost irreplaceable.” They will be removed to make way for the road, paid for in part with state money. Construction could start in July.

        A petition against the park road — signed by 1,173 people — was presented to Hamilton council in July. But council approved the road.

        “A recent letter from Friends of the Hamilton City Parks appealed to its members to help with park maintenance, owing to a reduced parks department budget and "financial difficulties of the city,'” Ms. Gallardo said. “Such a policy is the height of irresponsibility. Hamilton cannot even adequately fund its police and fire departments.”

        The Millikin Woods road project comes as the city prepares to seek designation as a “Tree City U.S.A.” to save the city's trees and educate the public about tree health.

        By late spring, Hamilton hopes to prepare an ordinance to protect its urban forest and, eventually, achieve the status of “Tree City.”

        But Ms. Gallardo says: “The reality of the situation borders on the absurd.”

        The plan City Council approved could cost $3.7 million to $5.1 million, with the first phase consisting of a quarter-mile road from Millville Avenue to Sunset Drive through the 47-acre park.

        Last July, Mayor Adolf Olivas said the proposed road could bring more people to the park, increase safety to park-goers and provide better access for safety personnel.

        Both sides have disagreed on the number of trees needed to be removed.

        City Manager Steve Sorrell gave several reasons in recommending completion of the first phase: improved traffic access between the southwest portion of the city and the Main Street business corridor; an additional railroad crossing; improved local vehicle and pedestrian circulation; and enhanced access for police and fire services.


        LEBANON — The Lebanon Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will present “A Celebration of Joy” at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lebanon High School Auditorium on north Ohio 48.

        The chorus celebrates its fifth anniversary and the orchestra its 10th with Poulenc's “Stabat Mater” and Beethoven's “Symphony No. 9,” the choral symphony.

        Tickets: $10. Information: 932-7276.

        Randy McNutt's column appears on Saturday. Contact him at the Enquirer, 4820 Business Center Way, Cincinnati, OH 45246.


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