The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) may have struck Oswego's ash trees, but the village is already planning on how to make the parkways once more "aesthetically pleasing."
The Village Board voted 5-1 in favor of purchasing 500 new trees at a cost of $102,300 from the Fields of Caton Farm Inc., located in Crest Hill. Village president Brian LeClercq suggested that half of the cost come from the village’s recycling fund, for which he thinks the tree replacement program is “the perfect program to use those funds,” for the current fiscal year.
The village accepted the bid by Fields of Caton Farm, whose trees will be a minimum of 2.5” in diameter and come with a two-year warranty.
Jerry Weaver, director of public works, said they have been taking infected trees down, with about 130 down right now, and will continue through the winter to remove infected parkway trees.
At the Homeowners Association meeting in September,
Weaver said there are safety issues with leaving infected trees up, as they have already had a few land on cars and one on a house. “We’re taking them out and replacing them as fast as we can,” he said.
As was discussed at an August board meeting, the prices of the trees will continue to rise, which was the reason why the board was considering the purchase of trees now. “If we can lock in these prices now we’ll be off to a good start,” said LeClercq. He added that currently the parkways weren't very "aesthetically pleasing" and the new trees would help.
At an earlier meeting on Tuesday, Oswego resident Tom Gargrave, a district forester for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, also thought now would be an ideal time to purchase trees.
“I think there will be a shortage of trees in a few years,” he said. “Nurseries are going to clean out their inventory now and we’ll come to a point where there’s not enough trees.”
In terms of the dry weather Oswego had and concerns about drought conditions, Gargrave said most trees were dug in the spring and were watered all year so would be fine. If Oswego was set to have a very dry fall there might be problems, but said that “I don’t see any problem with planting right now.”
He suggested Oswego use native trees, like Oaks, in the planting.
Village administrator Steven Jones said some residents have expressed interest in trying to save their ash trees and asked Gargrave’s opinion.
“If it’s under 10 inches [in diameter] I’d remove it, certainly,” said Gargrave. He said unless there were some really large trees in the area, that were sentimental, he’d recommend removing them.
“The EAB is here to stay,” said Gargrave. “May as well start a removal program to spread out the cost.”
The board voted 5-1 to purchase the 500 trees, with trustee Terry Michels voting no.
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