We wanted to gain public opinion about the value of trees and how Cleveland was doing regarding preservation and beautification.
The sharing of the results with the city and county planners, City Council, County Commission, Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations was our goal and mission.
MTAS (Municipal Technical Advisory Service) at UTK was contacted to see if other cities had conducted similar surveys and how their surveys were conducted.
Most of the questions selected were from a Knoxville survey. The assistance of a Cleveland State student, through the service-learning initiative at the college, was enlisted to design the survey. When the finished product was ready, it was disbursed throughout the community by asking some of the larger employers to share with their employees.
It was also distributed through the Chamber network and other county/city offices, and by word of mouth. The survey was open to anyone who worked and/or lived in the Cleveland and Bradley County community. It was titled “Cleveland Beautification Survey” to avoid biased results.
Some 442 people responded with 105 leaving comments on an open-ended comment section. When ask of the importance of trees, the top three answers were:
1) Improvement of air quality
3) Provide wildlife habitat.
Some 62.4 percent said trees were an important factor in choosing a place to live, whether renting or purchasing; 65.2 percent said they “strongly agree” that residential developers should cut down fewer trees when building new subdivisions; 52.3 percent “strongly agreed” that commercial developers should be required to protect old trees and plant new trees. And 46.8 percent said trees inspire community pride. MTAS has posted the survey and results on its website.
The comments ranged in topic with the majority relating to trees, development and planning, signs/billboards, utility lines, and litter.
• Tree topping in Cleveland is a problem.
• Contractors are eager to remove every tree, even beautiful and healthy ones.
• All local leaders (churches, civic groups, etc ...) should work to educate the public concerning the value of trees.
• You can go a long way [toward] beautifying Cleveland if you reduce all the sign clutter.
• Stronger action needs to be taken by the Commission and Council to make Cleveland a more attractive city, such as tree conservation, sign restrictions, required landscaping and general land development with an eye to attractiveness.
• Cleveland needs routine litter pickup.
• I would like to see more emphasis placed on cleaning up neglected properties in the county.
The results have been disbursed to various city and county organizations. The Cleveland shade Tree Board was very pleased with the participation. We learned that the majority of the responses were in line with our goals to Plant, Preserve and Protect our trees in Cleveland and Bradley county.
Though the Tree Board does not represent the county there have been several requests for us to be of service in a partnership or collaboration.
The ordinance was conceived as a tool to provide guidance and direction to citizens in the preservation of our environmental beauties, our trees.
For more information about the survey or the Tree Preservation Ordinance, contact Jan Cheek at 423-458-8060.