Future of Myrick Center and city ash trees discussed

Tuesday night, officials of the La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department sat down with the City Council to discuss the future of the Myrick Center and ash trees within the city.

The department gave the council a “road map” to all the work it is doing in the community. It also gave the council the findings of several community input sessions and surveys relating to the future of the Myrick Center.

The results show La Crosse residents want to see the building stay an environmental education facility open to everyone in the community. The parks department said the space is being used more and more every day, so before declaring an official use for the facility they want to wait a year.

“Let’s just let it evolve a little bit. Rather than making an assumption that we don’t know what’s best for it and plopping something in there, let’s let the community help it evolve, and I don’t think that’s a bad idea,” said Dick Swantz, La Crosse City Council president.

The city’s forestry department also talked about the Emerald Ash Borer Program.

This is the fourth year of the program, and one of the most critical, because in the fifth year of the bug a massive kill will take place.

About 30 percent of trees in the boulevards that are infected are being treated by homeowners. The rest of the trees in the city are being taken down because they are becoming dangerous.

“If these trees are damaged over 40 percent and the crown is weak and the bark is chipping off and the tree is splitting and it falls on personal property or on a person, that’s not doing our job of ensuring we protect our community,” said Steve Carylon, the Parks and Rec. director.

The department has already taken down about 2,200 trees throughout the city. It is replacing the trees as quickly as possible, but it takes about a year to replace a tree.

One area that is highly infected with EAB is Losey Boulevard. The parks department is planning to close off the street in April to take down over 100 trees. It says that is a more cost-effective route for the city than just closing a single lane.