Urban reforestation planned for downtown

by Daniel Bowden
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

With Mayor Bill Saffo out of town, Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan led the Nov. 20 Wilmington city council meeting. 

The Wilmington Tree Commission conducted a presentation recognizing outstanding live oak trees in the Wilmington area. WTC named the live oak the tree species of the year in May 2012, and selected 14 from the area for recognition.

Wilmington is home to two state champion live oak trees. The first is the great Airlie Oak in Airlie Gardens and the second rests in the Oak Landing development. The live oak in Oak Landing is just slightly smaller than the Airlie Oak.

Community service director Steve Harrell conducted a presentation outlining details of the city’s urban reforestation project on Market Street between 16th and 21st streets. This plan was spurred by an accident in June 2012 in which a low lying branch fell on a vehicle passing underneath. City surveyors conducted assessments of all trees lining Market Street, and plan to replace rotted or otherwise unstable trees with more stable high-rise live oak trees.

Following the presentation, Councilman Kevin O’Grady motioned to add a resolution to the agenda in support of the reforestation project. The motion passed, and the resolution passed unanimously.

A resolution re-establishing urban progress zones adopted in 2010 passed unanimously. This resolution provides tax incentives to businesses that wish to open up in areas where the city would like to see more development. 

Cross-City Trail, WPD

An ordinance making supplemental appropriation in the amount of $250,000 for the construction of the Gary Shell Cross-City Trail from John D. Barry Drive to James E. Wade Park passed unanimously. These funds symbolize the final agreement with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to finish the trail. When complete, the trail will stretch for 15 miles between the Heide Trask Drawbridge to Wrightsville Beach and Wade Park in Wilmington. 

Two ordinances were passed making supplemental appropriation for the Wilmington Police Department. The first allocated $10,500 to the capital project public improvements/equipment fund for the purchase of 18 bulletproof vests. Half of that funding comes from the Bulletproof Vest Partnership in the form of a grant from the United States Justice Department. The second allocated $37,000 to the special revenue fund for the WPD to obtain second-year maintenance costs on surveillance equipment using funding from N.C. Drug Tax Funds. This money comes from the successful prosecution of drug offenders. 

Councilman Neil Anderson asked for more information regarding the specifics of the surveillance program.

“It helps us in the location of persons that are wanted by this police department,” said deputy chief Marshall Williamson. “It’s very good surveillance equipment to help us in our endeavors to protect the citizens of Wilmington.”

O’Grady offered closing statements urging citizens to be careful and vigilant going into the holiday season.

“The bad guys are out there right now,” O’Grady said.

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