Fairfield insurance rebate fuels new city projects
The city of Fairfield is using an insurance reimbursement of $17,500 to help kick off a number of city endeavors such as establishing an annual safety fair for city departments, a tree replacement program along city streets and a partnership with Fairfield schools to replace Chautauqua Park oaks.
City administrator Kevin Flanagan said the city’s liability insurance, Iowa Community Assurance Pool, sent dividends back to all of its participating cities.
The Fairfield City Council unanimously approved Flanagan’s allotment of the funds during its annual work session Saturday.
He proposed spending $8,000 on safety for city departments with the goal of maintaining a low premium for city insurance by avoiding accidents. He suggested buying city departments first aid kits and Yaktrax to help prevent slips and falls in the winter.
Aside from equipment, Flanagan said the money would help fund an annual safety fair, which he introduced in Fairfield earlier this year. The event would include all city departments, presentations on worksite safety and cardiopulmonary resuscitation training.
Flanagan said the safety training would be comprehensive.
“We look at every department and questions are fielded from any employee,” he said. “You’re obviously a little more attentive to what kind of practices you’re seeing in public works, water and sewer because by its intrinsic nature it’s more dangerous.”
The next largest sum, $7,000, will help the park and recreation department buy saplings to replace the 50 Chautauqua Park trees infected with oak wilt, a terminal tree disease.
In October, Flanagan and park and rec director Derik Wulfekuhle met with Iowa Department of Natural Resources arborist Tivon Feeley for recommendations regarding the trees’ removal and replacement. Feeley informed them of a DNR matching funds grants for tree replacement.
Wulfekuhle said Flanagan realized the insurance funds would be well used in conjunction with a DNR grant.
“Kevin said, let’s use some of it [the insurance money] to leverage on grant opportunities,” said Wulfekuhle.
Wulfekuhle and Fairfield sustainability coordinator Scott Timm are currently working on an application for a $5,000 DNR grant called Trees for Kids. If awarded, Wulfekuhle would partner with Fairfield schools so students could take some ownership of the planting.
“It’s going to be an educational project,” he said. “We will make a classroom project out of it.”
Wulfekuhle said he plans to take Feeley’s recommendation to focus on variety, planting at least five different species.
“It will prevent a terminal disease from wiping out the whole park,” he said.
Wulfekuhle and Flanagan said the amount of funding would determine the species and age of trees they’d be able to purchase.
“The more money, the bigger caliber the trees,” said Flanagan. “They’ll want some that are a little larger specimens.”
The remaining $2,500 will help implement a tree replacement program introduced by former city manager Jeff Clawson.
“The former administrator made a promise that every one tree that came out of right of way would be replaced by two,” said Flanagan.
Flanagan said he will try to let citizens have a say in where new trees are planted, but will also work with city departments to make sure they do not interfere with street projects, sewer or water mains.
Both Flanagan and Wulfekuhle said they’ve set their sights on Arbor Day, April 26, for a community tree planting event.