Tree near sand volleyball courts

Although no formal decision was made at the Union Park Advisory Board May meeting, members sounded more inclined to keep a towering oak tree in place near the city’s sand volleyball courts.

In April, Dan Hittson, who coaches Union Jr. Ladycats volleyball, told the board branches from the tree are falling onto the court and causing problems. He showed the board sticks and acorns taken from the court, located near the K-9-n-Kiddos Dog Park.

Hittson said he loves trees, but this one could cause injuries. He promised to plant or pay the parks department to plant three trees elsewhere in the park system if the tree could be removed.

Parks Director Chad Pohlmann was asked at the May meeting if the court could be moved.

“We’ve had extensive discussions on ideas on where and how and what, evaluating cost,” Pohlmann said. “Could it be moved? Yes. Where? That would be a problem with the cost.”

Power lines, as well as water and sewer lines, prevent the courts from being moved 10 to 15 feet to the north, Pohlmann said.

“Could we move it across the street? We could, but then you would have very minimal amount of space before the balls would be going out into the street,” he said.

The court cannot be moved across town to Veterans Memorial Park because of a lack of space, Pohlmann said. Although it could be moved to the fairgrounds, that would mean the city would have to start over with lights and other infrastructure.

In addition, the city put a playground near the current sand volleyball court to enhance the park, though it doesn’t have a restroom, Pohlmann said. “So there are pluses and minuses.”

Pohlmann said the cost for cutting the tree down would be “very minimal” because the city would use its own labor, but it would be cutting down a “beautiful,” healthy and mature oak tree.

“There are members of the community that see that as a primary thing for the park system,” he said.

“I’m with them. As a matter of principle, I’d be opposed to it,” board member Justin Krey said of removing the tree.

Preparing the field is part of the process of playing sports, board member Gary D’Onofrio said. “We always had to do it for baseball,” he said. “We always had to chalk our own lines.”

The board decided to table the item until a future meeting to give board members a chance to look at the tree for themselves.

“I don’t feel comfortable making a decision tonight with this minimal amount of information,” board President Suzy Curnutte said.

Board members added there could be an “uproar” in the community if a healthy tree were cut down.

“We are a tree city,” board member Jeff Watson said. “We’re talking about removing a tree because it’s dropping acorns on a sand volleyball court.”

The ultimate decision would rest with the board of aldermen.