For Greene County News
XENIA – The skilled team members of the Greene County Parks & Trails (GCP&T) Maintenance Division are currently removing as many as 1,300 ash trees that pose a safety threat both within the parks and along the trail corridors — in addition to their normal responsibilities.
GCP&T Maintenance Supervisor Rick Inman wishes everyone could spend at least one day with his team of eleven as they work together to keep the park agency safe, clean, blue and green every day.
“People would just say ‘Wow’ when they discovered the versatility and flexibility needed to keep our 62 miles of paved trails and 2,600 acres of parkland ready to enjoy,” Inman says.
Ash tree removal will continue throughout the 2015 and 2016, he adds.
“We expect to take down as many as 300 ash trees on the Xenia-Jamestown Connector and up to 400 trees on the Ohio-to-Erie Trail,” Inman says. “Our two lead maintenance leads are specially trained for the tree removal process.”
Inman credits the success of the maintenance team to its true family feeling.
“We really are a brotherhood,” he adds. “We have ten men and one women between the ages of 21 and up into their sixties. Each has their own strengths and anyone of them would gladly step up and help out another coworker.”
Although many may see the team out mowing grass in the parks or along the trails, that’s only one aspect of the team’s responsibilities.
Three division members are dedicated to keeping both sides of the 62-miled paved trail network mowed, trimmed and cleaned of debris. Three crews of two to three are assigned the mowing and maintenance required for the 2,600 acres of parkland managed by GCP&T. The landscape at the Greene County Court House, Ledbetter Road complex, Greenewood Manor and more is maintained as well.
Land management projects, such as removing beaver dams, cutting reed canary grass, spraying honeysuckle and planting areas of native prairie are also part of the division’s responsibilities.
Time is spent in the maintenance shop creating special features for events and programs —- Doggie Dash ‘n Splash, Santa’s Holiday in the Park, Owl-O-Ween, Greene Trails Cycling Classic and more. Division members also help staff the popular events held throughout Greene County.
Although the maintenance division always has a plan for the work needed each day, that doesn’t mean it always goes as planned.
“Stuff happens,” Inman says, “we’ll get a call that someone has dumped trash at a park and it needs hauled away. We might have vandalism or graffiti that needs cleaned up. Every time there is a wind storm, we know there will be trees that need to be removed from the paved trail system, parks and reserves.”
When the grass stops growing, the snow starts blowing, he adds.
Three plow trucks, two backpack snowblowers, ground crew with shovels and salt are needed to keep Greene County offices and parks accessible during the winter months.
The GCP&T Maintenance Division are on-call during winter storms and frequently work all night on county parking lots and sidewalks —- including the Sheriff’s Office, Ledbetter Road complex, Greenewood Manor, Greene County Court House, Greene County Combined Health District, Greene County Library, Juvenile Detention Center, Fairgrounds Recreation Center for buses and more —-to prepare for the next business day.
“When those areas are safe, our team then clears snow from our GCP&T park sites,” Inman says.
The paved trails are not cleaned so that they may be used for winter sports, such as cross country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking or even dog sledding, he adds.
Although sometimes challenging to complete all the work needed to keep the park agency safe and clean for patrons, Inman wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve been here eight years and you never do the same thing all day, every day,” he says. “I love it. With our flexibility and diversity, we get the job done. We support each other and work with each other. We’re not just coworkers; we’re family.”