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At the request of a city resident, Wapakoneta city administrators plan to investigate the cost of planting larger trees the entire length of the East Auglaize Street reconstruction project.
Rachel Barber, 401 W. Auglaize St., inquired about the city using silva cells from the CSX railroad tracks to Water Street but not further to the east where residential homes exist. Silva cells, which are a modular system which suspends pavement or sidewalk while housing healthy soil for trees, provides two functions — growing larger trees and permitting the treatment of stormwater onsite.
“I was wondering if there were any way that large-statured trees could be incorporated into the East Auglaize Street construction project past Water Street because I know in the 300 block the city is using silva cells so there will be large-statured trees there,” Barber told Wapakoneta City Council members during Monday’s meeting. “For the remaining blocks, I was made aware there will only be small-statured trees there which will not provide enough shade for the homeowners and will provide for a less pleasant residential experience. I was wondering if there was any discussion regarding this topic and if something could be done.”
She said either a larger tree lawn would be required or silva cells could be used to accommodate the larger trees which could shade the houses in the residential area which are typically 2-story and 2 1/2-story homes.
“If the silva cells could be incorporated the rest of the way down the street, they would be able to have large-statured trees in the tree lawn,” Barber said.
Mayor Rodney Metz told Barber that Ohio Department of Natural Resources Urban Forester Stephanie Miller provided the city with a list of three species of trees that would fit into the tree lawn along East Auglaize Street between Water Street and Wood Street, but he would investigate the use of silva cells.
“I will ask (Engineering Superintendent) Mary Ruck about the feasibility and cost of the silva cells for that area,” Metz told Barber, noting an estimate would be prepared for a Streets, Alleys and Sidewalks Committee meeting scheduled for May 22. “I don’t know what the big problem would be. We will look into the cost of adding silva cells into the rest of the construction project.”
A silva cell is composed of a frame and deck with the frames being 4-feet long, 2-feet wide and 16-inches deep. They can be stacked three units high, for a total of 4 feet, and can be spread as wide as the user wants. They comprise 92 percent void space making it easier to accommodate utilities.
“I think it would be a great idea, but I don’t know if it will be affordable or if it could be covered in the grant from the state,” Metz told the Wapakoneta Daily News. “It would be great to have them all the same, so there are no questions about why we did this here and not there.”
The city is using a portion of a $560,000 Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Transportation Enhancement Grant received for streetscape improvements to purchase the silva cell system.
The mayor explained the silva cell system must be installed during construction, although a new longer system is being developed which could be installed after street construction. He said this may be an option for East Auglaize Street if the city cannot come up with the money to expand its usage.
He said the silva cell systems are expensive and the cannot access property owners for the addition because of the terms of the state grant.
Metz said he plans to investigate if money from the grant is still available to use silva cells from Water Street to Wood Street.
ODOT also is providing $1.3 million for the $2.1 million East Auglaize Street full-depth reconstruction project. Work has already started on the project which is expected to be completed by Nov. 1.