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updated: 12/12/2011 11:57 PM

Arlington Hts. weighing its options on ash borer

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Arlington Heights residents will be encouraged to treat ash trees on the parkways near their homes, the village board decided Monday night, but there is little indication the village will bear any of the cost.

Village staff will consider all the suggestions made at a meeting Monday and design a "people's choice" program for the board to consider, Scott Shirley, director of public works, said after the meeting.

That means residents can choose to treat against the deadly insect called emerald ash borer any trees on the parkways near their homes or on their own property. The preferred injection treatment is expected to cost about $100 per tree and be required an estimated eight times over the next 20 years, said Mike Reynolds, superintendent of maintenance in the department of public works.

Trees can be evaluated in the spring as to the chances that treating them will work, and those that have lost more than half their leaves are not worth treating, said Reynolds. Experts say generally 60 to 80 percent of trees in a community are viable.

Maps showing the location of each parkway ash tree in the village has been posted on the village website, vah.com.

One-third of the trees on village parkways or 13,000 trees are ash. The village has no choice but to remove any parkway trees that die, and any ash tree that is not treated is expected to become infested and die within the next five years, said Reynolds. Removal of all the trees would cost $7 million.

Currently the village also replaces all parkway trees that are removed, and for 13,000 trees that would cost more than $4 million. The board must decide whether to maintain that policy, the staff said.

Trustee Norm Breyer suggested the village consider paying a fraction of the cost of treatment as an incentive since every tree that survives would save the village the cost of removal and possibly replacement.

Trustee Joseph Farwell said the village could improve participation by homeowners if it arranges the treatment of trees for residents who agree to pay for it.

Only about 15 people, including representatives of four homeowners associations, attended the meeting. Village President Arlene Mulder said a larger crowd had been expected. She said she would like to see homeowners associations revitalized over this issue.

It would be better if the village shared the cost of treatment, Patti Mora said. She helped organize residents in the Cedar Glen neighborhood after village staff said the ash trees in that neighborhood would be removed because of infestation.

Re-evaluating the trees in the spring and allowing residents to treat them is a big improvement to cutting down 177 trees this winter, she said.

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