On August 20, 2019, a meeting was called by Mayor Jim Donchess and Ward Two Alderman Rick Dowd to address the sudden work tree cutting work at Edgewood Cemetery. The meeting was held for the neighbors of Edgewood Cemetery to discuss the sudden cutting of trees in the Cemetery along Ashland Street and what the City can do moving forward. The neighbors were upset about the loss of the beautiful trees and the sudden cutting with no advance notice. The Mayor and Alderman Dowd were not aware of the proposed cutting to allow the Cemetery to provide more grave sites and would have insisted on a neighborhood meeting to discuss any proposed work.
The Mayor opened the meeting, with approximately 50-60 residents in attendance, by saying how upset he and the Aldermen were about the chain of events and the sudden impact to the neighborhood. Mayor Donchess explained that he and Alderman Dowd visited the Cemetery as soon as we were made aware of the cutting and unfortunately the majority of the cutting had been completed and despite the Mayor asking for the cutting to be halted till a neighborhood meeting could be held, the cutting continued. On Wednesday, August 15th the Mayor, Alderman Dowd, and Board of Aldermen President Laurie Wilshire attended the meeting of the Cemetery Trustees and voiced our displeasure and concern about the lack of notice to the neighbors and the sudden cutting of trees.
The City reviewed the work and determined that a proper cut permit was issued from the State, but no Site Plan approval had been sought, nor granted. The City Planning Department issued a stop order for all work in this area. Mayor Donchess asked for inputs from the attendees at the Charlotte Avenue meeting on August 20 to let everyone voice their concerns to the Trustees in attendance. The Mayor has suggested that an Architectural Landscape company be consulted to develop a plan for the new work to be done. That is now in the works and another meeting will be called with the neighbors to review any plan developed before any land movement or tree / shrub planting takes place.
The neighbors agreed that it was in everyone’s best interest to have the stumps removed, stump holes filled in, and some temporary grass planed until the final plans can be agreed upon. The City Stop Order will be lifted ONLY to accomplish this preliminary work.
Alderman Dowd told the residents that he would keep up to date on all aspects of this project and keep the neighbors apprised of all activities in advance of them happening. Before any stump removal or hole filling is done, the neighbors will be notified. Please continue to check this website to stay aware of any updates. For people who provided emails, you will get email updates as well.
UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 20, 2019
I know things seem like they are proceeding slowly, but the Mayor and I, along with Community Development Director, Sarah Marchant, have been working with the Trustees to develop the plan going forward so it meets the goals we set at the Public Meeting. Sometime next week (we are told by the Trustees) they will have a meeting to discuss the bid they received to remove the stumps, sift the soil, fill in the stump holes, and seed the ground. As soon as the Trustees approve the contract, the City will lift the stop order to allow them to follow the scope of the contract and clean the area up. This will be the first step in helping the loss of the beautiful trees.
My Budget Committee approved the allocation of $10,000 to pay the bid we received from the Landscape Architect to design the area impacted at Edgewood. It comes before the full Board of Aldermen next Tuesday night (7pm) at City Hall for final approval. I will keep you informed as this process continues.
The Trustee meeting is open to the Public and the Mayor and I will be attending. We don’t have the date from the Trustees as yet and were hoping to know today. I will send out an email to residents as soon as I know the date and time.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 3, 2019
After a successful meeting between the Cemetery Trustees, the Mayor, myself, and some of the neighbors, we have concluded a successful path forward. It was agreed that the cemetery would hire a company to remove the stumps and all remaining tree material from the area impacted along Ashland Street; fill the stump holes; level the hole areas so grass can be planted; and finally hydroseed the area before it gets too cold. The Trustees and the City will jointly hire a professional cemetery Landscape Architect to work on a design for the impacted area and present that design to the Trustees, the Mayor, Alderman Dowd, and the Public for comments and input.
The City Stop Order has been lifted for the work above and the contractor has been paid for the work performed previously. As soon as we have date for the stump work to start I will let the neighbors know by email and update this site.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 12, 2019
The City Stop order has been lifted to allow for the stump removals, all other loose material to be taken away, stump holes filled, minor smoothing of the ground and hydroseeding. The contractor, Jennings, will commence work the week of October 21st and it is not anticipated it will take long to complete. The one tree remaining that looks like a half moon should be removed as well. The City and the Trustees are currently reviewing the Landscape Architect’s contract and it is anticipated that it will be signed by both parties very soon. The scope of the contract includes presentations to the neighbors around Edgewood to solicit input on the design. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the seed will grow enough to keep the area green until the final new design is incorporated in the Spring.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 25, 2019
With the City stop order lifted for the removal of stumps and general clean up of the area Jennings have started their work and as of today most of the stumps have been pulled and clean up has started. I will be visiting the site again this afternoon to get the very latest status. As mentioned in my email to residents in the area the work, including seeding, should be completed by Tuesday if weather allows. I believe the contract with Landscape Architect has been approved by the Trustees and the City and may be signed when you read this. I will keep you informed of all activities with the design as they get scheduled.
UPDATED – NOVEMBER 2, 2019
The work to remove the stumps, fill in the holes, clean the area up and hydroseed the area is complete. See the picture above with the mulch in place. Rain and decent weather should allow the grass to take hold and ready the area for the Winter. The City and the Trustees will be starting work soon with the Landscape Architect to prepare for preliminary plans for the site. The contract allows for the Public input into the design process.