South Greensburg trees spared
South Greensburg council pulled the plug — or chain saws — on Monday on the cutting of more trees at the community park.
In a unanimous vote, council agreed to return the $10,000 Mt. View Lumber of Smicksburg, Indiana County, paid for the wood and to declare its contract with the logger “null and void,” based on Councilman Bob Thomas' motion.
Council further agreed to form a committee consisting of three council members and three citizens to review further issues at the park.
The elected officials moved the meeting from council chambers to the nearby social hall in the borough building to accommodate about 70 people who attended.
Council voted after meeting in private with solicitor Tim Fedele to review legal issues about the oak and hickory trees, many 80 years or older.
“I would like to say thank you,” said Deb Muse, president of a citizens group that formed once Mt. View began felling trees earlier this month.
“I appreciate the openness of council.”
Emily Collins, an attorney and executive director of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services in Ohio, further applauded the decision. She was hired by the citizens group.
“I commend you for the decision you're making,” Collins said.
The state constitution makes elected officials the “trustees of natural resources,” Collins reminded council before taking her seat.
Mt. View agreed to halt cutting of the trees at the request of citizens last week. Thomas estimated last week about 70 trees had been felled to that point.
Thomas said he spoke with a representative of the logging company. The representative seemed agreeable to stopping further logging, Thomas said.
Fedele agreed that Mt. View appeared likely to accept council's decision about the contract and the return of the money.
“We have every indication that proposal is acceptable,” Fedele said after the meeting.
Muse questioned council about cleaning up the site where logging had taken place.
“That's why we want to start a committee,” Thomas replied. “We'll do what we have to do to get it done.”
Some residents continued to want to talk about the felling of trees after council made the motion.
“It's stopped,” Councilman Tom Yarnell replied. “No more trees are going to be cut.”
“It was never our intention to devastate anything to start with,” Thomas added.
“We did not do it for the money. That was never the intent,” President Clentin Martin said.
The committee will make recommendations about what to do at the park, but council will make the final decisions.
“Given what has transpired, although it has the final decision, borough council will very, very seriously consider the recommendations of the committee,” Fedele said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.