Park board approves plan to replace trees near jail

Published 6:24 am Thursday, June 3, 2010

Local officials may have found a solution to a messy situation.

With the blessing of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department Wednesday night, the Mower County board is prepared to spend roughly $10,000 to remove a number of ash trees on First Street Northeast near the new downtown jail and replace them with smaller, “ornamental” trees.

Why the switch? Simple — bird poop.

With the larger ash trees lining the street between Fourth and Second avenues northeast, birds — and their waste — are frequent visitors to the area. In fact, birds even left their mark on the new building late last year, meaning staff will have to power wash the facility again, which could cost more than $10,000.

County coordinator Craig Oscarson said bird poop on the new jail would be a recurring problem — and power washes would be necessary on a recurring basis — if the ash trees remained.

“The board’s not trying to say they’re anti-tree, they’re just trying to say they’re anti-crow poop,” he said previously.

But the trees are on city property, which is why the park board needed to get involved. On Wednesday, that board approved a plan that would leave two baby ash trees but would replace the rest with eight smaller, more decorative trees. The smaller trees, which would not bear fruit, would be less attractive to birds.

In between the trees, vined trellises would give the area an artsy look.

Oscarson said not only will this plan cut down on bird poop, but it should also make the street look nice.

“I think it’ll be a big improvement over what you have now,” he told the board on Wednesday.

The idea still needs formal approval from the whole Mower County board, but that is expected at their next meeting.