Tree near sand volleyball courts

A towering oak tree is disrupting play at one of Union’s sand volleyball courts and might need to come down.

Dan Hittson, who coaches Union Jr. Ladycats volleyball, said branches from the tree are falling into the court near the K-9-N-Kiddos Dog Park and causing problems. He showed the city’s park advisory board sticks and acorns taken from the court at a meeting last Thursday.

The sand volleyball program was started four years ago and continues to grow, drawing about 30 players a year from as far away as Bourbon, St. Clair and Owensville, Hittson said. “We want to continue the program. We think it’s really good for the kids, but we have this nemesis,” he said, showing a slide of the tree next to the playing surface. “I have been fighting this tree ever since we started.”

Along with the youth program, between eight and 16 teams play in a Friday night adult volleyball league in the summer, Parks Director Chad Pohlmann said.

Hittson said he loves trees, but this one could cause injuries. “If there was a way to pick it up and move it, I would say do that, because I really hate to kill a tree,” he said. “But it has caused me more problems and it causes our adult league problems every single year.”

The tree impacts the entire back side of the court, Hittson said.

“Eventually, what’s going to happen is some little girl or some older person is going to dive for a ball, and they’re going to get a stick in their eye,” he said. “It also makes it really uncomfortable to play volleyball, especially when you’re not wearing shoes, which you don’t wear when you’re playing sand volleyball.”

Hittson suggested that if the tree couldn’t be removed, the sand volleyball court be moved across town to Veterans Memorial Park. Pohlmann said there is no room for it there.

The parks department is discussing options for moving the sand volleyball courts close to their current locations. But Pohlmann said they run the risk of having it too close to the street, near other trees or near a water line.

“I don’t know if we want to steal from Peter to pay Paul,” he said.

Hittson said the volleyball teams would plant three trees elsewhere in the park system to replace the one taken down.

The courts have great potential for events like tournaments and clinics if they are improved, Hittson said. He also suggested the city add white sand to the court. “I know it’s more expensive, but it’s not as hot,” he said.

Pohlmann said he is requesting quotes from companies that sell the white sand.

Hittson also suggested building a canopy over the referee stand to provide protection against the sun, rain and bugs.

Because it lacked a quorum, the board couldn’t make an official recommendation, though members supported removing the tree.

“The tree was there first, but now it’s a danger, in my opinion,” board President Suzy Curnutte said. “My feeling is we should take it down.”

Pohlmann said he would discuss the issue with board of aldermen members.

The parks department would be able to remove the tree itself, so it would only have to pay employee hours, Pohlmann said.

The city faced similar issues recently in a wooded area at Clark-Vitt Memorial Park, where close to 70 dead, dangerous or diseased trees were removed around the disc golf course, Pohlmann said.