By TESA GLASS firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — The Parks and Recreation Department is planning for large crowds at its annual Arbor Day Celebration.
"In past years, we've had 1,000 to 1,500 people attending," said Parks and Facilities Director George Bryant. "We encourage people to come out that day, rain or shine."
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Veterans Park on April 27, Bryant told the City Council during its meeting Monday.
"It's a great start to our year and the Family Adventure Series," Bryant said. "Last year we gave away 160 magnolia trees, and 2,000 tree seedlings."
Activities planned for the day include a petting zoo, tree climbing adventure, sling shot range, arts and crafts, a recycling station, the Ameren IP Preserved Tree giveaway and a recycling station.
From 10 a.m. to noon there will be activities and booths, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. free hot dogs and soda, from noon to 12:30 the Arbor Day ceremony; and from 12:30 to 1 p.m. activities and booths.
Bryant also told the council the city has been chosen to receive another Tree City USA award.
"Myself and Matt Fauss, the city public works director, attended the Tree City USA conference," Bryant said. "There was a workshop on trees and ice storms. Some of the information we gleaned from that will be extremely helpful as we look at trees on city property and on right of ways."
Bryant said many years ago, the city had completed a tree survey. The highest number of trees on city property were silver maple trees, which have poor structure, and are highly susceptible to ice damage. The next three highest trees were red maples, sugar maples and American sweet gum. Bryant said the maples, while nice trees, also have a problem with breakage and damage in an ice storm and sweet gum trees are not desirable due to the fruit and the shallow root structure which can break sidewalks.
"We are talking about doing the survey again to update what we have in the right-of-way and in the parks," Bryant said. "We also would look at future planting sites. ... I think this is a positive thing we looked at and will explore more as we go along and develop the urban forestry plan in the community.
In other business, the council:
Held a first reading on an ordinance to rezone property at 11100 N. Illinois Highway 148 from agriculture to medium density residential at the request of Randy Bernard who would like to build a four-plex apartment building on the property;
Held a first reading on ordinances to rezone properties and grant a conditional use permit to Central Christian Church for its building and renovation project;
Held a first reading on an ordinance for a conditional use permit for Kip and Katrina Bauer at 120 S. Ninth St., to allow for residential living on the second floor of the downtown building;
Approved a resolution granting a conditional sign permit to Magnum Steel Works for a flush sign on its building at 200 Shiloh Dr.;
Approved a resolution for engineering services with Rhutasel and Association to move forward with the Ninth Street Streetscape program;
Approved the re-appointment of Brandon Bullard, Ron Neibert, Jim Brown and Chris Mendenall to the Minority Affairs and Human Relations Commission; and
Approved the re-appointment of Diane Hultgren, Dennis Epplin, Justin Riley, Barbara Miles and Michelle Venturi to the Tree Board.