Government

Iowa Hula-Hoop Tree's fate may be outside of Jones County's circle of influence

Jones County engineer to survey land, come to supervisors with a clear answer

Hula hoops hang from a tree along E23 County Home Rd. west of the town of Amber, Iowa on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. It’s a mystery how and who started the tradition. Several of the hoops has memorial messages to departed loved ones. One had a happy birthday announcement. The attraction is featured on the website Atlas Obscura. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Hula hoops hang from a tree along E23 County Home Rd. west of the town of Amber, Iowa on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. It’s a mystery how and who started the tradition. Several of the hoops has memorial messages to departed loved ones. One had a happy birthday announcement. The attraction is featured on the website Atlas Obscura. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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AMBER — The Hula-Hoop Tree may not be in Jones County’s right of way after all.

Questions about whether the whimsical attraction in Amber is on the county right of way or on private property arose during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The Hula-Hoop Tree was on the agenda to discuss whether the county would be liable if the tree would fall or there was a car accident near the site.

County engineer Derek Snead said the tree on E23 County Home Road north of Anamosa may be only partially in the right of way.

“It’s very close to the right of way,” Snead said. “The likelihood of it being in the right of way is very high. We’re going to go out there and measure.”

Snead is going to survey the land to determine whose property the tree is on and will bring the information to supervisors. Agendas for Tuesdays meetings are posted on Fridays.

If it is on private property, the tree might belong to supervisor Jon Zirkelbach.

Zirkelbach could not be reached for comment.

Bobby Krum, president of the Amber Community Club, felt positively about the meeting Tuesday, saying it went as well as he could hope for right now.

Krum said whether the county or a private owner decides to remove the Hula-Hoops or the tree itself, the club would consider resurrecting a monument of the tree or choosing a secondary tree to place the Hula-Hoops on instead.

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“I would like to see it continue, but I can’t vote for the whole board,” Krum said.

County attorney Kris Lyons said that there have been no accidents or reports of problems because of the tree. Lyons said putting up pedestrian crossing signs to slow traffic near the tree could partially answer the question of the county’s liability.

While a private group already created signs to place along E23 County Home Road because of the tree — yellow signs with a person hula-hooping and “ZING” written at the bottom — Snead said the county Road’s Department is responsible for signs. A homemade sign is not something they would “typically” allow within the county right of way, he said.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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