The Sparks City Council approved the Parks and Recreation Department to move forward with the project at its most recent City Council meeting, and Parks and Rec. has recruited a 25-foot Sequoia tree from Placerville, Calif. for a $2,000 transportation cost. The tree will be donated, saving about $4,000, and planted west of the Bandstand in Victorian Square near Dotty’s Casino.
Parks and Rec Director Tracy Domingues said the location was an original favorite of the planners because of its open area for root growing, location to the bandstand and overall addition to the Square.
“Site 4 (selected by the Council) was originally chosen because it wasn’t going to interfere with any existing business or signage,” Domingues said following the decision. “There is room to grow the tree there with minimal impact on event layout, which still has to be re-evaluated and some minor adjustments need to be made. It also is a planter that is already in place.
“We may have to slide it slightly south, but it has power and water to it, so it is also the least expensive site to prepare and finish. It had everything going for it. I also like its proximity to the bandstand there because we could incorporate entertainment with the tree lighting ceremony.”
The tree planting could happen as early as October, according to Domingues, if the City is able have the tree transported concurrently with City of Reno’s tree. Although the tree would be planted early, it would need time to take root to be ready for the tree lighting ceremony kicking off the 2014 Hometowne Christmas event.
For the 2013 celebration, City of Sparks will continue its commitment with the City of Garibaldi, Ore. which has cut down and transported a tree and provided a Color Guard for the ceremony since 1988. This year will mark the final need for a transported tree to Sparks, which Domingues said points to the City’s budget constraints and a need to cut costs no matter the size.
“I think a living tree is a sign of the times,” she said. “The event ran its course with the Christmas Tree Express and it is not a loss of appreciation for everything they (Garibaldi) have done for us, it is simply a program that is a good move for the City in a society that is continually going green and trying to preserve its natural resources. I am pleased.
“We are in a position still with the budget to be efficient and innovative, and I honestly feel this is a result of those efforts and it just makes sense. I feel it is the right thing to do.”
In the last ten years, according to City documents, the Hometowne Christmas event has been operating at a loss of as much as $52,821 and as little as $12,579. The event has cost anywhere between $38,000 and $80,000 in that 10-year period. Costs have been declining in recent years settling in the $38,000-$44,000 range.
“This is the 28th year and those costs accumulate,” Domingues said referring to the transportation of the tree each year. “Our budget is not increasing. It is staying status quo at best and our resources are just too thin to be committing that much time and effort to the setup and takedown of a tree every year. We have shifted our thought to less with less and come to realize we have to do that. It’s a drop in the bucket, but I think it matters.”
Domingues said the location will be re-evaluated in the next two weeks to ensure maximum efficiency of any adjustments needing to be made to the current planter. Other options for the tree planting included: Lillard Park at Pyramid Way; the Amphitheater; the northeast corner of 10th Street and Victorian Avenue (in front of the Blue Garter Bridal Shop); the Four Seasons Fountain (across Victorian from the Plaza).