County looks into lowering speed limit for Hula Hoop Tree

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

With the famous Amber Hula Hoop Tree officially residing in the county right of way, the Jones County Supervisors decided to look into lowering the speed limit along a small stretch of County Home Road E-23. 

Many visitors stop, park, and walk or stand along the roadway taking pictures of the tree or trying to toss hula-hoops into the tree. It was deemed a problem due to the safety of the people, as well as those driving by. 

During the Sept. 17 board of supervisors meeting, the board met with County Engineer Derek Snead and Sheriff Greg Graver on the issue. 

Snead said he found the contract stipulating when the county purchased the right of way. 

“The tree is in the right of way,” he said, putting to rest whether the tree was on private property. “It’s what we expected.” 

Supervisor Wayne Manternach suggested possibly lowering the speed limit from 55mph to 40 or 35mph. 

Snead said they looked at the sight distance, which is over half a mile to the west and a quarter of a mile to the south and east. He summarized that it’s plenty of time for drivers to see as they near the curve of the tree. 

“As far as advanced warning, it’s generally a shorter distance than that to see people parking alongside a road,” Snead explained of most dangerous curves on roadways. He said signage wouldn’t help the situation. 

“It would be more effective to slow people down,” advised Manternach. 

Graver said the area is “almost a carnival-like atmosphere” on the weekends when people flock to Amber to see the tree. 

“Most people do a good job of slowing down,” he said, noting that there have not been any accident reports. “But I don’t see a downside to lowering the speed limit.” 

Snead said any time the county has lowered the speed limit, they’ve needed to conduct a speed study. He’s looking in to see whether that step is needed in this instance or not. 

“The DOT recommends it, but it’s not always required,” he said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve done one. I don’t know how long it would take.” 

The board felt a speed study wasn’t necessary. 

Graver said there is a lot of farm machinery and equipment driving past the Hula Hoop Tree, that slowing vehicles down would benefit everyone. 

A visitor at the meeting still maintained that the tree was nuisance and should be dealt with. “It’s still a liability concern. A dead tree is considered a nuisance, and if it falls down, the owner (the county) is still liable because you neglected to take care of the problem.” 

Bobby Krum of Amber asked whether the lower speed limit would be extended to include the roadway past the Amber Community Club. “We have family events and kids running around,” he said. “I’d like to see it all the way through.” 

In other county business: 

The board approved an Internet contract with Mediacom for the JETS facility in Monticello. The contract involves a $99 one-time installation fee, with a monthly rate of $149. There is also a $200 disconnect free through CenturyLink. 

• The board approved the preliminary and final plats of Moonstorm Meadow Woods 3rd Addition in Fairview Township. 

There will be two buildable lots created near Carlson College. 

• The board approved waiving the 60-day notification period to adjacent property owners to sell a parcel of unused county right of way along Old Dubuque Road. Jeff and JoAnn Hinz want to purchase the property, and Jones County is the only adjacent property owner. 

The Hinzes submitted a $1,800 offer to purchase the property. The board will take action on the sale at their Sept. 24 meeting. 

• The board approved a wetland monitoring contract with EB Solutions in connection with the Wapsipinicon Trail Project. 

Contract price is $1,828 a year for four years of monitoring. 

The cost will be covered by the Trail Committee. 


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