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updated: 7/26/2011 7:02 AM

Winfield may spend $12,400 on ash borer study

Trustees debate spending money on tree survey

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  • The emerald ash borer has sparked a debate in Winfield on whether money should be spent on a tree survey to determine the extent of the problem.

      The emerald ash borer has sparked a debate in Winfield on whether money should be spent on a tree survey to determine the extent of the problem.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • An ash tree that has been dead for some time shows the tunnels made by an emerald ash borer. The critter was found in Winfield last year and has sparked a debate over whether to spend money on a tree survey or not.

       An ash tree that has been dead for some time shows the tunnels made by an emerald ash borer. The critter was found in Winfield last year and has sparked a debate over whether to spend money on a tree survey or not.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

The emerald ash borer might finally have found a place to thrive undeterred: Winfield. That is, if arguments win out from some village trustees who say the village cannot afford a tree survey.

While many towns in DuPage County have started full-scale attacks on the critter since it first arrived in northern Illinois in 2006, Winfield was spared from the destructive metallic green beetle until last year.

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And now village officials say Winfield does not have $12,400 to spend on a tree survey and, if it did, that money would be better spent on fixing deteriorating roads.

"I don't see a lot of value in knowing where they are," Trustee Tim Allen said. "Winfield has a love affair with trees, and I can appreciate that. But for $12,000 ... I would rather buy $12,000 worth of trees so when the trees die, we have something to put in there."

The village has $25,000 budgeted for a tree survey, and bids came in lower than expected. Oak Park-based Natural Path Urban Forestry came in at $12,400.

The Winfield village board is expected to vote on the proposal at its next meeting. The measure appears headed for a split vote, which could leave it up to Village President Deb Birutis. At last week's board meeting, she appeared to support the survey.

Trustee Jay Olson said the budgeted money should be put into the village's road program, as officials continue to scramble to find money to pay for costly repairs. Olson said the village could then re-evaluate the situation in 2012.

"I just don't believe that, with some of the other priorities that we need to find money for, mainly roads, that there is $25,000 in our budget," he said. "I don't know that I need to spend money to go out and tell me that I have a lot of these trees out there."

But other trustees argue that not identifying the infested trees could lead to greater expense in the future.

"I am not the biggest fan of spending a bunch of money on EAB but, if we let (the trees) fall, it will cost a considerable amount of money," said Trustee Jim Hughes. "We may have no other choice but to react by hiring a contractor."

Last month, Winfield officials nearly doubled the money budgeted for road repairs by moving some money from next year into this year.

"At some point, we have to stop taking all of our funds and diverting it straight into roads if we don't have money left for other projects," he said. "If something comes up, we'll be in trouble if all of our money is diverted to roads and I know that is not the popular thing to say."

Ever since the ash borer was first spotted in northern Illinois in 2006, "The Green Menace" has been found in more than 100 communities in the state. Emerging adults form characteristic D-shaped holes in infected trees after laying dormant during the winter. The pest develops from wormlike larva that rob the trees of its nutrients.

Infected trees also are characterized by dead branches at the tops of trees and significant woodpecker activity.

If a survey is completed, village officials would then direct the public works staff to remove those that are infested.

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