City officials are unwilling to look at the contents of a professional survey of the trees in the city parks.
The city has received an electronic copy of the inventory, but has not opened it. They say there is some doubt that the city will receive reimbursement for the study with a grant that was approved in April.
Because it is not paid for, the city does not actually own the report.
A Missouri Department of Conservation TRIM grant not to exceed $10,000 was approved to fund the study. Davey Resource Group, Kent, Ohio, completed the inventory.
A work description prior to the inventory said professional arborists would view 1,250 trees in the city park, to identify location, species and health and possible hazards of each tree.
The Missourian requested a copy of the survey in August after questions arose over health and safety involving several dead trees and dead tree limbs in the park.
Stephen Flannery, Pacific Park Board president, said he and other park board members are frequently in the parks and have discussed the trees numerous times. He said they are anxious to see the results of the inventory, but that appears unlikely.
City officials missed the deadline for filing the Department of Conservation paperwork that is required before the agency will send a check to reimburse the city for the study.
Flannery said he and other park board members are frustrated at the lack of urgency the city is placing on what appears to be a safety issue. He said watching board of aldermen debate funding of a range of other issues and ignoring the needs in the city park is disappointing.
He noted dead trees in the park pose a safety issue for citizens.
“I’m disappointed that aldermen play politics with a safety issue,” he said.
Flannery said it’s his hope that if the city cannot gain reimbursement for the grant that the city will pay for the work and open the report. He said he’s disappointed that the city may have lost free money, but the report contents are his main concern.
“I want to see the report,” he said. “We have a duty to know what’s in the report and we have a duty to act on that information.”
Mayor Herb Adams said his administration is still trying to work out with the Department of Conservation a method to obtain reimbursement for the study.
The grant was approved before the city ordered the work and the city was promised reimbursement.
“Harold (Selby, city administrator) is still working on that,” Adams said. “He still hopes that he can work it out and we’ll be reimbursed.”
In the original discussions on the grant application among topics discussed was the possibility of funds to help remove unhealthy or dangerous trees that were identified in the inventory.
After The Missourian contacted Adams about the dead trees and the report, two large dead trees near the entrance to the park were cut down, but large dead branches are still hanging loosely from otherwise healthy trees near the children’s pavilion.
Adams said if the city is unable to obtain reimbursement for the study, as promised in the grant, the city will pay for the report and release it to the park board and the public.
“We’re good citizens,” he said. “If we don’t get reimbursed, we order the study and we’ll pay for it.”