Park Hills taking action to remove dangerous trees

PARK HILLS, KY (FOX19) - In the past three months two people have been killed by falling trees in Northern Kentucky. Park Hills is taking steps now to prevent a tragedy from hitting their community.

Fort Thomas is still feeling a loss after 15-year-old Michelle Chalk was suddenly killed after a tree snapped and hit her while she was sitting in a hammock. Last month in Fort Wright, 32-year-old Heather McNamara was killed at the Civic Club. She was on the patio when police found her trapped underneath a fallen tree.

It's an unseen danger that has some in the community concerned.

"It could just be a mishap of someone driving down the road and it could happen. That's something you don't think about. Me I don't think about 'oh I wonder if that tree's old,'" said Stepfanie Hoffer, who is a resident in Park Hills.

However, it is on the minds of Park Hills Mayor Matt Mattone and the City Attorney. They are working on an ordinance that will allow the city's tree board to inspect the trees on public property. The ones that appear to be a threat will be removed.

"We have a lot of trees in Park Hills. It is an Urban Forest," said Mayor Mattone.

The board would first focus on trees lining the roads and other areas that have the most potential to harm bystanders.

"A lot of the trees. The older mature trees are reaching the end of their life span but they've certainly been compromised by the ash borer and then we've had a drought and high winds," said Mayor Mattone.

Excessive leaves and branches falling, flaking or brittle bark are signs the city will be looking for but the mayor it's not always easy to spot the dying trees.

"A lot of trees that have fallen they don't look unwell. There may be telltale signs but if you're not looking for them specifically we may miss them," said Mayor Malone.

He said being proactive and addressing the problem could help prevent a tragedy from hitting his community.

Residents said it's the right move that could save a life.

"We don't realize it until it happens and then we're like oh it's too late it's a problem. So maybe it doesn't have to happen any further if they go ahead and take care of it now," said Hoffer.

If the ordinance is passed, Mattone said there would be an annual inspection and the city would allocate funds for tree removals.

The first reading will be on Nov.13.

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