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Stability of trees in Wilson Park questioned
Douglas Alippe points to a tree at J. Frank Wilson Park in Martinsville. The top part of it fell onto his nearby fence and damaged it. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)
Thursday, August 2, 2012
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Martinsville crews will examine the condition of trees in J. Frank Wilson Park after the top of one tree there recently fell, damaging a nearby resident’s fence.
“We’ll flag any trees in poor condition” and then decide how to handle them, said Martinsville Interim City Manager Leon Towarnicki.
Towarnicki said he does not think any tree in the park is a major safety risk. Problem trees have fallen before, but it has been rare, he said.
The property of Douglas Alippe on Mulberry Road borders the park. The top of a dead tree in the park but near his property fell onto his wooden fence during a storm about a month ago. It also took down a smaller, live tree.
Another tall tree at the park’s edge is leaning over Alippe’s backyard.
After he contacted the city, a Martinsville Parks & Recreation Department crew was at the park Tuesday afternoon, removing the downed trees.
However, Alippe said he does not understand why the crew did not remove the rest of “the huge monster” tree which partially fell onto his fence.
Alippe and his wife, Lorraine, voiced concern about the possibility that other dead, diseased or bug-infested trees are in the city-operated park off Church Street Extension and Oakdale Street. Their concern is based on appearances of some trees they see from their property.
“I’m still worried” that someone might get hurt, Lorraine Alippe said.
Towarnicki said he thinks the parks and recreation department had trees at Wilson Park inspected a few years ago and it was determined that some need to be removed but they were not due to the cost. He said removing a large tree can cost as much as $1,000 to $1,500.
He said he would have to look into that inspection.
As for the damage to the fence, Towarnicki said Alippe can file a claim with the city’s insurance carrier.
But to do that, it must be determined exactly when the tree fell, Towarnicki said.
Storms hit the area June 29 through July 1, the first day of the new fiscal year when the city officially changed insurance carriers. If the tree fell June 29 or 30, a claim would have to be filed with the Virginia Municipal League, with which the city previously had its insurance. If it fell on July 1, a claim would have to be filed with the city’s new insurance provider, the Virginia Association of Counties.
Alippe said he has homeowner’s insurance, but he questioned why he should pay for damage caused by a tree on city property.