By John A. Ballentine
What was in early June deemed, “A failed experiment,” by Toulon Mayor Larry Hollis, the cemetery mowing contractor, Integrity Lawn Services, of Bradford, has received a reprieve. The central discussion at a special Toulon council meeting held Tuesday, June 26th, was the mowing issue at the city cemetery.
Mayor Hollis stated, “I had a long talk with Mr. [Jeffrey] Lape and since that time, things have improved. I was not sure I was going to let him continue, but he was very adamant that he wanted to stay with it.”
The issue focuses around Memorial Day and photos posted on Facebook that showed several areas near the rear of the cemetery that were not trimmed or seemingly mowed. The City received numerous complaints during the Memorial Day weekend concerning the condition of the cemetery.
“Let’s continue to see if he [Lape] can fulfill the rest of the season,” Hollis suggested. This prompted Councilmember Connie Jacobson to comment, “I think he is trying, but I think he is overwhelmed and the issue still needs to be addressed.”
The News contacted Mr. Lape for comment about this issue at the cemetery. Mr. Lape provided a lengthy response, “I consider the [June 11th] meeting of the City council last month to be sneaky and cowardly [by] talking behind my back without asking me a single question.
“No member of the City council has come out to the cemetery prior to that meeting to have a walk and talk with me. Since that meeting, only the Mayor and the council member who works for Reinhart Foods [Ryan Kelly] have come out to the cemetery to have a look at the conditions.
“The City council should refrain from getting their fake news from Facebook. I was told by Rob Kamerer, the City employee, to mow the cemetery at three and a half inches. This is largely responsible for the poor conditions at the cemetery.
“Since, I have lowered the cutting height to 2.75 inches and it is looking much better, though I am still dealing with excessive grass clippings.
“Both the Mayor and Rob Kamerer said they had many complaints, yet they have not produced one name and contact information, so I could address those complaints.”
A different agenda item was discussion about 10 trees at the cemetery that will need to be removed. Those trees were previously damaged years ago due to a straight line wind that swept through the cemetery and damaged the trees at that time. Also, there are several holes that will require filling in where trees used to exist but were removed at the cemetery.
An ash tree near the shelter at the Toulon City Park has been attacked by emerald ash borers and is dying. It needs to be removed. The council wants to hire a tree company to professionally remove that tree from the park because of its precarious location next to the shelter. The cost is not to exceed $1,000.
Another item on the agenda was approval of the repair of the cul-de-sac on Mohawk Road, in eastern Toulon. A bid of $22,000 from Potter & Sons Asphalt to completely rebuild the cul-de-sac and a section of the roadway was accepted.
A new swing set and two new basketball hoop/backboards and related equipment were approved for purchase at a total cost of $4,119. The equipment will be acquired from Game Time.
Mulch for the playground will be purchased for $13,500 for 36,000 pounds of multi-colored virgin rubber mulch. It is guaranteed not to contain any wire and is ADA [American Disability Act] compliant. This purchase is TIF eligible and can be purchased through the City’s TIF money.
Toulon’s next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 9th, at 6 p.m. Mr. Lape has indicated that he will be in attendance at that meeting.
By John A. Ballentine