Parks, Rec and Tree Board to consider pursuing ‘Tree City’ status in Little Falls

By Terry LehrkeNews Editor

Little Falls may pursue “Tree City USA” status in the coming months. Little Falls once had that status, but lost it over the years, having no one with expertise in the tree area. Another factor for a prior Council was cost —  $2 per capita to be a Tree City.

Resident Robin Hensel asked that the Council consider pursuing Tree City USA status, with Mayor Cathy VanRisseghem in agreement.

To qualify as a Tree City USA community, four standards, established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters, must be met.

A city or town must have a tree board or department; a tree care ordinance; a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation.

Currently, 100 Minnesota cities carry the Tree City USA designation, including near neighbor cities Royalton, Brainerd, Staples and St. Cloud.

The Arbor Day Foundation lists 15 reasons for cities to become a Tree City. Some of those include encourages better care of community forests and touches the lives of people within the community who benefit daily from cleaner air, shadier streets and aesthetic beauty that healthy, well-managed urban forests provide. The complete list can be found online at www.arborday.org.

The Council referred the matter to the Park, Recreation and Tree Board for review.

Little Falls Council Briefs

In other business Monday, the Little Falls Council:

• Set Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, as the time and place for a public hearing for the proposed business subsidy to the Central Minnesota Ethanol Cooperative;

• Learned Bernie Athmann’s case against the city regarding an accident his vehicle had with a city snow plow had been dismissed in civil court;

• With the exception of one piece of property southwest of Fourth Street Southeast, north of Green’s Addition behind St. Otto’s Care Center, voted not to pursue any of the other three properties designated as forfeited by the county;

• Accepted a number of donations, including a bike rack from C & F Design; $500 for a park bench from Sue Doucette; $90 for an Automated external defibrillator from Kyle Hoggarth for the golf course; $37.50 from Kollect-it-Korner for the K-9 program; $300 for the Youth Task Force from the Little Falls Dam Festival Committee; $11,435 for golf course improvements from the Little Falls Golf Extravaganza; $2,000 for a freezer replacement at the golf course, from the Little Falls Lions; a cargo trailer for bike safety education from Morrison County Public Health; $87.50 for the K-9 program from Tri-County Community Action and $500 for a park bench, from Jane Varriano;

• Declared a male pronghorn calf, two female pronghorn calves, a 1989 Ford pickup; a Yamaha ATV and a 1992 GMC Sonoma as surplus property to be sold;

• Approved a request by the Friends of Linden Hill to remove and discard material from the stable/carriage house roof, as the deteriorated roofing is being replaced;

• Accepted the Police Department report, which showed the department handled 6,757 calls for service in 2012, and a decrease in the crime rate from 8,224 in 2011 to 8,063 in 2012. The report showed the “crimes cleared by arrest” rate in 2012 was 69 percent; and

• Approved the installation of three – four surveillance cameras as the Little Falls Country Club, with a cost not to exceed $3,500.

During its work session, the Council:

• Heard from Steve Twitchell, president of the Habitat for Humanity of Morrison County Board, regarding the possible purchase of several city lots, thanks to a donation to the organization. The matter will be referred to the Park, Recreation and Tree  Board;

• Decided Sept. 16 was the latest they could wait for public input on the new light fixtures in downtown; and

• Directed staff to talk to business people about the possibility of putting parking restrictions in place on city streets, from Nov. 1 through April 1.

The next regular Little Falls City Council meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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