Historic Root Beer Barrel In Douglas Expected To Be Turned Into Mini-Museum
“We are still looking to have it up by summer,” said Douglas Zoning Administrator and Community Development Director Lisa Imus of the giant, historic root beer barrel that once graced the Douglas city streetscape in the days of post-World War II.
Imus gave her update during Monday’s city council meeting.
In another highlight, Douglas officials also discussed getting more serious about creating regulations to more effectively prevent the gratuitous cutting down of trees on private property.
The move comes, as Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley described, the tree “massacre” at 179 Schoolhouse Lane (located off of Union Street, some two blocks east of Douglas Elementary School) that upset both members of the public and city officials alike.
“There are other kinds of ordinances out there,” said Douglas City Council Member Kathryn Mooradian who has been studying how other cities (i.e. Ann Arbor) deal with trees, particularly trees on private property that cities want to protect.
She said - and colleagues agreed to look into it - that there are legal options the city can avail itself of to institute more preventive measures and harsher penalties.
The 179 Schoolhouse Lane clearcutting was unauthorized, the result of a project involving a two-plot consolidation - recently approved by city council - and a proposed development project.
Consequently, the city issued a $50 civil infraction, a minor fee that some, like local resident Heather Barton, consider a “slap in the face,” but which either way was quickly paid by the owners.
While the owners and developer had the right to cut trees on their property, they only sought a permit after the fact because they did not follow the appropriate chronological steps for a site plan review for their planned home construction, Imus has noted.
“There is nothing we could do about it currently in our ordinance,” Imus reiterated Monday about the very little enforcement action the city can take relative to tree cutting on private property.
With regards to the root beer barrel, the “Save the Barrel” project has been a community-wide effort, with numerous volunteers investing resources and time on refurbishing what was once, between the early 1950s and mid ‘70s, a concession stand that sold foot-long hot dogs and root beer.
The city wants to convert it into a kind of small, public museum, a structure that pays tribute to the artistic and cultural heritage of the area.