XENIA — The city of Xenia officially kicked off its tree carving sponsorship program recently.
Hoping to avoid cutting down trees that have died due to the ash borer, the city will allow residents and businesses to sponsor a tree, which will be carved and have the sponsor’s name posted at the bottom. A demonstration Ash tree was designed, carved and donated by Xenia artist Loren Lorenzo and is on view in Shawnee Park.
The program was not slated to begin until next season after the city spent the winter securing sponsors, but because of the publicity the carved tree received, the city is prepared to move forward sooner.
“Several local sponsors have already stepped forward with the willingness to fund carvings yet this year,” City Manager Brent Merriman told city council at last week’s meeting.
The initial sponsorship fee is $2,500 and according to city documents carvings can not be used to convey a political message, campaign or religious message; can not contain any offensive, hateful and/or negative messages or graphics; and can not be used for the advertising or promotion of commercial products, corporate entity or services by the sponsoring agency, organization or person. A typical carving from start to finish takes about 60 hours.
The trees will have protective fencing to try and prevent vandalism, which concerned Councilman John Caupp, who does not like the 8-foot high fence around the tree at Shawnee Park.
“To me it looks pretty tacky,” he said. “It deters … from the whole concept of the project.”
Merriman said vandalism is likely to occur at night and when there isn’t regular patrol at the park and while lowering the fence height could be an option, he would not recommend removing protection altogether.
“It may be an investment in vain,” he said. “I’d hate to have the entire community deprived of the opportunity because there are a few knuckleheads our there that can’t control themselves.”
Merriman conceded the steel fencing at Shawnee Park is a bit much, but because the tree was donated the city wanted more protection around it. He added that park vandalism happens everywhere, not just Xenia.
“It’s not any more prevalent in this community than in any community around,” he said. “We have generally an equivalent share of knuckleheads.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.