Dealing with the impact of the emerald ash borer could cost Rolling Meadows up to $1.7 million, a high price, but much less than what other Northwest suburbs plan to spend, officials said Tuesday.
The city has about 1,700 ash trees, 35 of them already infected and in need of removal, Public Works Director Fred Vogt told the city council this week.
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The rest will be removed or replaced over the next several years, he said, adding that infestation in Rolling Meadows has not progressed as quickly as elsewhere.
With the cost for removal and replanting topping out at about $1,000 per tree, $1.7 million would be a worst-case scenario, said City Manager Barry Krumstok.
"The numbers from our larger neighbors are so much higher, sometimes being small saves a little money," said Mayor Tom Rooney.
Arlington Heights recently estimated its ash borer costs at up to $11.5 million, and Schaumburg has placed a $9 million price tag on its plan to remove and replace ash trees.
The city plans to notify people living near the 35 trees that will be removed and keep an eye on the other ash trees. The city already removed eight trees last spring.
There are treatment options for ash trees, but Rolling Meadows staff is recommending against that option because of the cost and risk the tree may still become infected. The estimate for treating all ash trees would be between $80,000 and $150,000 a year for at least 10 years, officials said.
Individual residents can choose to treat their ash trees at their own cost.
Officials say the city will establish a no-charge permit process to keep track of who is treating their own trees and if that treatment is successful. Information about emerald ash borer and the process for homeowners to treat their own tress will be sent to residents this spring.
The council will take up the discussion again in May or June to decide what size trees will replace the infected ash trees, a decision that could make a $250,000 or more difference in city costs.
Smaller trees could cost $50 each, but trees up to the city standard of a 2.5-inch diameter would cost at least $200 per tree, Krumstok said. The city has not decided if homeowners will need to share in replacement costs.
Looking ahead, Vogt predicted in his report that the landscape of the city will be "significantly altered" by emerald ash borer, since on some streets 50 percent or more of the trees are ash.
"The decimation of these trees, especially within a one to three year period, will have a stunning detrimental appearance," he said.