Replacing the City’s Trees

August/20/2014 5:10AM
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The emerald ash borer appeared in Wheaton, Illinois about five years ago. Almost every parkway tree in the city happens to be an ash with certain doom pending. Well over 5,000 ash trees.

Two weeks ago the death squad appeared at my house. The head of the city’s forestry department advised that my five trees would be replaced by four trees. City regulations had changed( how surprising, new space regulations). He gave me a list of twelve species, none ash of course. We would be picking which we wanted. I would be paying $85 a tree to replace the city’s trees.

We consulted with the Morton Arboretum and another expert and called to place our order. No return call.

The local paper published an article summarizing a council meeting where the tree issue was discussed. There was concern that the public was buying far fewer trees than the number being cut. Upshot of the meeting: the city needed to pay 100% because the $85 a tree was a hardship for residents with multiple trees. I sent an e-mail to the reporter who wrote that article suggesting the problem might be more administrative than financial. If no one ever answers the phone for the order number and they never respond to phone messages it might be impossible to order trees.

I sent this suggestion to the long-term city manager.

Finally I went to city hall to see if I could place an order in person.

I was told by the typical city employee that the city had run out of money and I could place my order next May.

Since the city manager had not responded to my e-mail, I called the assistant city manager. He advised me that the information I was given in person by the city employee was untrue. The city was not only not out of money, they had so much they decided to drop the $85 resident participation fee. Sorry all of you who paid the city that money. You will not be getting any rebates.

He advised it could be as long as 5 years to get the free trees, but if I wanted to buy the city free trees I could. I just had to fill out a bunch of forms, acquire permits, and plant what the city wanted me to plant. He said the timetable is stretched because nurseries in the area are running out of trees.

If I wait to get my free tree, forget the option of picking from the 12 species. That’s over when free comes into play..

So, we go from where we were when the man from the city was here to help me say goodbye to my trees, that offer was to pick from twelve and we will put what you want in as soon as the stumps are ground. Great plan. But, no the new offer is to buy us some trees after you jump through our hoops or wait up to 5 years to let us plant what we choose.

In between I get to make a trip to city hall to have someone there spin me an outright lie to get me to leave.

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