By Sean Rice
City clean-up crews are turning their attention to ice storm damage in Celina's parks, after a month-long push to clean streets and collect downed tree limbs from residences.
"It's an absolute mess," Safety-Service Director Jeff Hazel said Friday of the city's parks, which are still littered with damage from an ice storm that walloped Celina in early January.
"We've been going for a month using parks employees to assist the street crews picking up limbs," he said, adding that "thousands of cubic yards" of limbs have already been collected.
A tentative deadline was set for the end of January to get all limbs picked up, Hazel said, but it took until this week to cover the entire city. On some streets, crews came through and hauled away limbs piled on the curb lawn only to return days later to find the piles replenished.
In Eastview Park, a tree limb broke through the roof of a shelter house and another tree fell on playground equipment. At Westview Park, thick ice accumulation brought down the backstop fence behind a baseball diamond. In all, Hazel estimated as much as $25,000 in damage was done to park equipment and grounds.
Once the ground freezes hard again, trucks and heavy equipment will move into the parks to tackle limbs there, Hazel said.
"We've been running like mad, everyday," he said of clean-up crews. "The city streets had to come first, because people don't really use the parks in the winter."
The limbs are being hauled to the old city dump off Summit Street, where they are chipped into a pile Hazel said is like, "Mount Vesuvius."
The city has no formal plans to make the wood chips available to the public but if there is interest from residents it can be arranged, Hazel said.
"The chips are not treated or graded, so it's not the like mulch you're going to get at the nursery," he said.