Response to September 27th City Council Meeting Comments

A guest column by Lauren Enda

Loveland resident, Lauren Enda

At the city council meeting on September 27th, a Loveland resident voiced concern regarding an invasive removal event held at the West Loveland Nature Preserve on September 10th. In her speech, she compared the sanctioned, supported, and fully vetted work done by volunteers with hypothetical residents who may wish to rip out playgrounds and clearcut trees. Examples that she herself said were “outrageous”. After her speech, Loveland’s city officials did not reassure the resident that the city sanctioned the work, that the Nature Preserve was in safe and competent hands throughout the project, and that they were grateful for the work the volunteers had done. They remained silent on all these truths. The mayor seemed to confirm the resident’s concerns by stating, “For all the reasons you mentioned, steps have already been taken and that project has been put back where it belongs, which is Tree and Environment and that will be the only entity that will be taking those steps forward.”

Anyone listening to the speech and the mayor’s reply might be led to think the speaker’s concern was that the volunteers did something inappropriate or incorrect. No. The speaker in fact stated that the volunteers did a good job removing invasives in the Nature Preserve. The speaker’s concern is that city officials sanctioned this type of project in the first place. She asked later in her speech that the city rethink future projects like this one.

A quick call to the city manager would have informed her that city officials had already cancelled future projects, not because of the professionalism or work of the volunteers, but because the city solicitor stepped in. From the city solicitor on September 20th, “While the City appreciates the work you performed, please be advised that the City is not willing to allow… non-city contracted entity, to do further work in the West Loveland Nature Preserve.  Any work performed by the City, or on the City’s behalf, must be done through a contracting process that includes certain insurance, liability and other requirements we expect of all contractors.” 

In the end, by approving the project 53 man-hours of labor jumpstarted the arduous process of removing invasives from Loveland’s green spaces. Fantastic! And that is something we can all be proud of.

So, if there was a lapse in judgement it was not by the volunteers. What the volunteers did on September 10th was an act of concern and respect for Loveland’s green spaces.

To clarify things that should have been clarified at the city council meeting on the 27th, below is timeline for the event. This should clear up any remaining concerns about how the event came to be, who was involved, and who gave permission. It shows that insurance and liability issues had been handled. In the timeline are approvals from the Tree and Environment Committee, the City Manager, and the Public Works Director. There is support from Public Works in supplying tools and clearing up the cut debris and from the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for publicity.

If you are interested in joining future invasive removal days on privately-owned land, please contact me at [email protected]. The work continues!

8 July – After receiving approval from them to remove invasives in the West Loveland Nature Preserve (WLNP), the Tree and Environment Committee sent a waiver so high school students could help in the project

July – Conducted multiple dates of invasive removal in the WLNP with volunteers and members of the Tree and Environment Committee

End of July – City Manager approved the project to hire a contractor, at my own expense, to speed the clearing of invasives

1 August – Contractor insurance document was emailed to City Manager

15 August – Emailed project details to the City Manager and Public Works Director, indicating that written approval would be necessary to finalize the plans

19 August – Loveland’s Public Works Director sent email, approving the project, stating that “…this is a great project and really do appreciate your lead in this.”

21 August – Emailed Tree and Environment Committee about the September 10th date for invasive removal at WLNP

24 August – Met with invasive removal contractor at WLNP to discuss project

24 August – Received email from Tree and Environment Committee stating, “We are all working for the betterment of our environment – and that is what matters.  We look at you as a hero in many ways for the way you have researched and pursued issues.”

30 August – Met with the Reforestation Program Manager at the Ohio River Foundation to discuss project

30 August – Spoke with the Director of Land Stewardship at the Arc of Appalachia to discuss project

6 September – After phone conversations with Loveland’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator, sent her event details and she posted them on Loveland’s social media; the post encouraged residents to join the event

8 September – Contract for work sent to me from contractor. I called City Manager to ask about how to proceed. He said that he does not need to see it or sign it since I am paying the contractor’s bill

8 September – Loveland Public Works brought work gloves, eye protection, loppers, and the key for the WLNP in preparation for the event

10 September – Event is held; a huge success with approximately 1000 invasive plants removed, painted with herbicide, and stacked in the manner dictated by Public Works

12 September – Public Works Department chipped all stacked invasives in the WLNP

13 September – Marketing and Communications Coordinator posted summary of the event on Loveland’s social media pages

13 September – As a show of respect for the support and encouragement from Loveland officials, I reported to city council about the event, the outcomes, and thanked the city for their help in making the project possible. The Mayor thanked me for my work stating, “Thank you Mrs. Enda. We appreciate your efforts and that of all the volunteers.” Other city members chimed in with “thanks” as well.

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