News and Tribune

Business/Money

October 3, 2012

Gonder: New Albany ignored own tree policy for park

Abolishment of council health insurance passes on initial ballots

NEW ALBANY — The city failed to follow its own guidelines when nine trees were removed last week to make way for the New Albany Bicentennial Park, City Councilman John Gonder said this week.

Gonder — who also serves on the New Albany Tree Board — said the city neglected its own policy when it comes to removing trees from public property.

“The trees were cut without any appearance in front of the tree board,” Gonder said during Monday’s council meeting.

He added the tree removal was “a breach of what we should be doing” and said mediation in the way of financial payment for the actions is needed.

Gonder said the tree board has fined residents and businesses for removing trees without permission.

No one from the administration addressed the issue during Monday’s meeting.

Last week, New Albany Economic Development Director David Duggins said the trees were ruled to be unhealthy by three specialists.

“These three specialists have marked all of the trees at the site for removal based on findings of internal rot and improper tree maintenance, which has caused irrevocable damage,” he said.

Fifteen trees were planted on the property, which is at the intersection of Pearl and Spring streets, Duggins added. He said Greg Mills, the city’s arborist, concurred with the findings of the three specialists.

Mills is also an adviser to the city’s tree board.

Council insurance rebuked on initial readings

By a count of 5-3, the council voted to abolish its option to receive city health insurance.

The measure was sponsored by Councilman Dan Coffey, and will require a third ballot likely later this month before it becomes official.

Three council members — Kevin Zurschmiede, Diane McCartin-Benedetti and Bob Caesar — receive city health insurance. Ninety percent of premiums for health insurance for public workers are covered by the city.

But the only part-time employees allowed to receive health insurance are council members.

Zurschmiede abstained from voting on the ordinance. McCartin-Benedetti, Caesar and Shirley Baird voted against it.

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