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Toledo approves removal of felled park trees by residents

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A number of dangerous trees at Kemp Olson Memorial Park, in Toledo, have been cut down to prevent them from falling unexpectedly, and the Toledo City Council is allowing the public to harvest the felled timber as a means of removing it from the park.

The Toledo City Council has approved a resolution allowing residents to harvest the wood from felled trees in Kemp Olson Memorial Park, with an expectation of re-opening the park after the timber is removed.

The council had closed the park last month after it was reported the trees in question were unstable and likely to fall during a heavy storm, and had decided at their Dec. 1 meeting to hire local contractor Paul Oberg to fell the problem trees.

Oberg has since brought down the trees at issue, and the council decided Dec. 15 they will allow residents to harvest the remaining timber, provided they follow regulations posted at the park.

"Anything the public does is saving us time and money," said Public Works Superintendent Craig McCown to the council, stating his department does not currently have the time or resources to divert manpower to removing the trees.

"It would be a first-come, first-served thing," he added of the program.

Among the regulations imposed by the council are cautions against allowing minors to participate in operating dangerous machinery, a need to use proper safety equipment if using chainsaws to harvest the timber, a statement that the city will not be responsible for any injuries to persons or property by individuals gathering the wood, and a limit of two pickup truck loads of wood per person per household.

City Clerk Michelle Whitten said, though the resolution does amount to the city giving away its resources, which it is normally prohibited from doing, state law does allow exceptions where residents are assisting the city by removing solid waste such as felled trees, as the city is receiving a service in the process and not simply giving away the timber.

Whitten also told the council a number of residents have already expressed an interest in gathering the wood since the city's decision to fell the trees was announced, and it was again emphasized the program will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Regulations regarding how the timber may be harvested were posted last week and the program is expected to continue until the timber is gone. It is worth noting this applies to only those trees which have been felled, and residents remain prohibited from harvesting trees still standing.

Normal park regulations will remain in place as far as being open from dawn to dusk, with Whitten noting those who use chainsaws during the evening may also find themselves in violation of city nuisance ordinances.

Council members felt the need to stress their intention of providing the timber for those in need of firewood and not those who simply intend to take and sell it, but noted they would not be able to prevent such persons from participating as the program is open to all residents.

For more information, including the full list of regulations for the program, contact City Hall at (360) 864-4564.

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