Chalking one up for poison ivy reports

The more than inch of rain that fell on Tuesday, July 16, washed away a useful message someone had chalked onto a Bloomington sidewalk. The blue inscription pointed to a street tree pit on the south side of 6th Street just west of Lincoln.

“Poison ivy,” it warned.

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Looking east at 6th and Lincoln streets the first week of July. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The Beacon checked into the issue a little bit.

Bloomington has a uReport system  residents can use to notify the city of issues they’d like to see addressed. The database includes entries going back to 1995.

Poison ivy is something residents sometimes complain about to the city, even if it’s not the most frequent issue—”poison ivy” is mentioned 167 times among the 95,631 records.

Over the last week or so the records show complaints about illegally-placed commercial signs, abandoned cars, vehicles blocking drives and bicycle parking, and holes at the dog park.

But none about poison ivy.

The uReport web interface offers some shortcuts for common issues. For example, scooter complaints have a dedicated section on the webpage. Poison ivy does not appear to be a common enough complain to make the city set up a specific poison-ivy portal for the uReport web page.

An alternative offered on the uReport webpage is an email address: Some email correspondence between The Beacon and city staff yielded some insight into the poison ivy on 6th Street.

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Poison ivy plant in the tree pit at 6th and Lincoln streets in Bloomington. (Dave Askins/Beacon)

First, based on the photos, the blue chalk correctly identified the three-leafed plant as poison ivy.

And according to city staff, the Beacon’s email message was enough to alert the city to the issue—no need to fill out the uReport form.

Does the city consider poison ivy in the tree pit at 6th and Lincoln to be an issue it will address? Yes.

Dave Williams, who’s the operations director for Bloomington Parks and Recreation wrote: “Our policy regarding removal of poison ivy is based on location and level of public use. In the ‘built’ environment; a playground, park shelter, City street tree plot (i.e. 6th and Lincoln) for example, we will remove the poison ivy.”

R Map Poison Ivy Poison Ivyxxxx

On the Beacon’s plotted map of all “poison ivy” mentions in the Open311 database, a few of them appear in parks. A different standard applies in areas that are not the built environment.

According to Williams: “In outlying areas of city parks, or in natural areas such as Griffy Lake and Leonard Springs, let the user/hiker beware, we do not remove this vegetation. The user takes the inherent risks of recreating in a natural or undeveloped area.”

The same principle applies to bees, Williams said. The city will take steps to remove bees, “if it’s in a developed area of a park and if the location creates a safety concern, especially in children’s play areas.”