To the editor,

While the resignation of an entire board may make a sensational headline, it’s still politics at its core.  Through all the news and social media coverage one fact continues to get lost in the rhetoric: the plan to replace the downtown trees was discussed at the Sept. 3 Administrative Services Committee meeting and after some questions, the entire seven-member Common Council and Valerie Dawnstar, Chair of the Oswego Tree Stewards and representative of the Tree Advisory Board, provided their support for the plan.

Recognizing this issue may be politicized, I made it a point to ask Ms. Dawnstar if she supported the plan and it was met with an affirmative.  This can be confirmed by reviewing the minutes of that meeting.  It was no surprise that shortly after the meeting, members of the Tree Stewards and Tree Advisory Board were downtown, accompanied by members of the City Democratic Committee, spreading false information and claiming that Ms. Dawnstar, who coincidentally happens to be the mother of my opponent for 3rd Ward Councilor, was bullied into providing her support.  I encourage everyone to view the video of the meeting on the city’s website to see that this narrative was completely fabricated and not at all based on reality.  

The plan to replace the roughly a dozen trees is part of a larger effort to continue our revitalization of downtown Oswego.  The existing trees were in varying degrees of health, many were too large for the limited space of downtown and several were causing and beginning to cause damage to our City’s infrastructure creating safety concerns for pedestrians.  The replacement trees were chosen based on their ideal size, beauty, and resistance to disease, drought and pests.  

Again, these facts continue to get lost in the political rhetoric.  The new trees will complement the millions of dollars of investment being made in our city’s core, as well the $500,000 investment in our downtown small businesses through the Downtown Improvement Fund.   

At Monday’s Planning and Development Committee Meeting there was an opportunity for members of the city’s Tree Advisory Board to address the council, but rather than attend the meeting, they chose to resign their positions in what is clearly the final move in their orchestrated attempt to politicize this plan.  

Earlier this year we replaced several trees on West Bridge Street as part of the State Route 104 Complete Streets Project and the Tree Stewards and Advisory Board were completely silent.  To say this “controversy” was anything but political is ridiculous and completely ignores the facts.

It’s time to move on.  While important, there is far more to city government than trees.  

Kevin Hill

City of Oswego Councilor 3rd Ward

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