GIBSON CITY — The city will be replacing all 23 trees that were planted downtown last year, after none lived through the winter.
By a 7-1 vote Monday night, with Alderman Denis Fisher dissenting, the city council agreed with Mayor Dan Dickey’s plan to hire the Onarga Nursery Co. to plant 23 redbud trees downtown and put mulch around them. The contract includes a one-year replacement guarantee in case the trees do not survive the year.
The $7,350 to be spent is less than the $11,000 the city spent last year for Gibson City-based Ropp’s Flower Factory to plant redbud trees downtown.
“Based on last year, where we had 100 percent failure, I think we needed to see an expert or arborist,” Dickey explained in recommending hiring the Onarga Nursery Co.
Dickey said he had talked recently with the Cultra family, which operates the Onarga Nursery, and decided the new trees needed to be planted soon. That was why Dickey bypassed the committee process and went straight to the full council for approval.
The new trees from the Onarga Nursery have been grown in Wisconsin and put in the ground, then dug up and their roots secured with burlap. Resident Tom Barrow said that makes the trees more hardy than what the city paid for last year, which were container-grown trees that had not yet been planted in the ground.
“Those trees are probably seven or eight years old, if you count from the seed all the way on up,” Barrow said. “If you don’t follow your zone for a recommendation on planting a tree, they’ll freeze out and die. These trees came from north of here, so they’re a lot safer than anything else.”
Dickey said the city does support local businesses and will continue to do so. Dickey noted that the city could continue to work with Ropp’s Flower Factory on planting trees at various locations, such as at the city’s fishing pond and parks.
Hiring the Onarga Nursery for planting the downtown trees, Alderman Susie Tongate noted, was the result of trying to find a simple solution.
“I think we’re trying to just move forward without working this sore up that we have,” Tongate said. “We’re going to make this work, and I’m sure that we’re going to work with Roger to be compensated.”
In other business:
➜ The council approved the Illinois Department of Transportation’s plan to reroute traffic through downtown Gibson City for seven to 10 days sometime in July or August so that the Norfolk Southern Railroad can reconstruct its crossing near the Dairy Queen restaurant.
➜ Council members agreed to take Dickey’s property out of the second tax-increment financing (TIF) district. City Attorney Marc Miller said Dickey requested the change as to avoid financial conflicts of interest in dealing with changes to the TIF district.
➜ Council members approved a small change in the Shriners golf outing event request, changing the liquor host from Sammer’s II to Rick’s Recreation Center & Pub.