Parks Board Hears Troubling News

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana

Parks board hears troubling news

Posted: Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:00 am

New Castle Parks and Cemetery Superintendent Dan Denney shared some unwelcomed news with the local parks board Monday night.

“We’ve probably got over 100 trees that are dead,” he said. “They’re all ash trees. The emerald ash borer has taken a toll on all of them.”

Denney said parks department personnel have already removed a few dead ash trees, but those efforts have been hampered because he has a limited number of employees and they have a lot of work to do. He also pointed out that until it warms up enough for area trees to start budding, he can’t be entirely certain which trees are dead and which trees aren’t.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said. “About all of the ash trees in Baker and Osborne are dead. We’ll be cutting them down little by little as soon as we can get to them.”

Denney said there is no money in his budget to hire a contractor to take down the trees, so parks department employees are addressing the problem. He also pointed out that firewood from the trees being removed is available to the public on a first-requested, first-served basis. New Castle residents with an interest can call the South Mound Cemetery office, which doubles as the parks office, at 765-521-6850.

As for replacing trees, Denney said approximately 60 new trees were planted in local parks in 2015 and a few more were planted last year.

“That’s not going to replace all of the trees that are dying, but it’s a start,” he said. “The reason we haven’t planted any more than that is we just haven’t had the money in our budget. As we get money to plant more trees, we’ll do it, but if we don’t have the funds, we can’t.”

Anyone with an interest in donating funds to purchase new trees or in donating trees for planting in city parks is encouraged to contact Denney at the previously listed phone number.

“We’ve had people come out who wanted to plant or tree or two, and we’re happy to let them do that,” Denney said. “Preferably, if they want to donate a tree or two, we’d like to have oak or hickory or hard maple, some kind of hardwood. They generally hold up better.”

The parks superintendent said there is a small grove of ash trees near the dog park in Baker Park that will all likely have to be removed. Denney would like to see someone donate some hardwoods to replace those trees in particular.

People are not at liberty to take it upon themselves to visit a park and plant a tree wherever they want; any tree planting in city parks must be pre-approved by Denney. 

In other news from this week’s parks board meeting, board members were reminded about a couple of important upcoming dates.

The city’s annual Easter egg hunt is scheduled for April 15 in the New Castle High School parking lot, adjacent to Baker Park. Activities are scheduled to run from noon to 2 p.m. with egg distribution set for 1 p.m. In the event of rain, a drive-thru distribution of plastic eggs will take place.

The city is hosting a community picnic April 22 in Baker Park. Tickets will soon be available from parks board members and through the mayor’s office. Mayor Greg York said there will be pizza, chicken, pulled pork, nachos and cheese, grilled burgers and more. Read The Courier-Times for additional details as they are made available.