Spring is finally here. And with it comes the kick-off of festival season, a host of outdoor activities and exciting opportunities to improve our community!
Recently, officials at our Parks & Recreation Department announced a new program that is designed to help replenish our neighborhoods with healthy trees -- the City of Fort Wayne Citizen-Match Ash Tree Removal Program.
While more than 8,500 dead ash trees have been removed from the right of way residential areas, there are still 5,000 more that need to be cut down. This is a process that could take years to complete. Citizens who would like a tree removed immediately may hire a bonded and insured contractor and the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department will reimburse the citizen for a portion of the cost. Reimbursement rates range from $30.42 to $444, depending on the size of the tree.
Applicants must own the property where the tree is located, the ash tree cannot be currently on a contracted removal list, the applicant is responsible for securing an estimate form a bonded and insured contractor, the applicant and/or contractor shall agree to remove the tree and stump and the applicant is responsible for providing a paid invoice to the Parks and Recreation Department, to be eligible for reimbursement. For a complete list of requirements or to access the Ash Tree Removal Application, go to www.fortwayneparks.org.
Beginning April 9th, residents may apply for a street tree, which the City would plant this fall adjacent to their property, on the street right of way. This year the cost of the street tree program is $50 -- reduced from last year's price of $75 -- so that more residents can be accommodated. The Parks & Recreation Department will cover the remaining amount for each tree.
Like many of you, I am disturbed by the violence that has plagued our city in recent weeks. I recently joined Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York and leaders within the Fort Wayne Police Department to discuss the recent homicides in the City. I can assure you that my administration and the police department are doing what we can to make Fort Wayne as safe as possible. Our police department is developing strategies to address the recent violence – much of which is believed to be the result of gang activity, drugs and domestic disputes.
I join Chief York in reiterating the importance of our community coming together and working with police and urge residents with information about crimes to contact police immediately. With more open communication, police are better equipped to arrest those responsible for criminal acts.
The Fort Wayne Police Department will continue to work collaboratively with county, state and federal law enforcement agencies to strengthen our efforts to reduce violence and solve crimes.
On another note, I encourage all city residents to participate in this year's Great American Cleanup on May 18, 2013. We're seeking volunteers, groups and residents of all ages to take part in the cleanup of litter and debris from Fort Wayne's neighborhoods, parks, roadways, trails and riverbanks. With the help of our sponsors, we're able to provide t-shirts, gloves and trash bags to help with this citywide initiative.
Organizers in our Solid Waste Department ask that you pre-register by April 15th by calling 311 or going to www.cityoffortwayne.org/greatamericancleanup.
Last year, with the help of nearly 5,000 volunteers, we picked up trash, removed graffiti and planted flowers and gardens. This event provides a great opportunity for neighborhood associations, church groups, service organizations, youth groups, schools, and all residents to make a difference and take pride in our community.