Mount Prospect officials are rethinking the village's approach to the emerald ash borer. In response to homeowners who worry their neighborhoods will be decimated by the removal of parkway ash trees, Forestry/Grounds Superintendent Sandy Clark this week recommended village trustees allow residents to treat trees.
Among the residents seeking the policy change was Ronald Bare, who implored trustees to save as many trees as possible, arguing that cutting them down will not stop the ash borer's spread.
"If we just cut the trees down, the community will look like a disaster area," said Bare, who lives on West Thornwood Lane. "We do not have the money to waste on cutting the trees down."
Ron Monroe, who lives on Lois Court, said that 18 of the 20 ash trees on his 13-home cul-de-sac are targeted for removal. Many of the block's residents, he said, are willing to pay for treatment.
"Our cul-de-sac is going to look like it was decimated by a bomb" if the trees are removed, he said.
Under the proposed policy, which would require an ordinance change, residents would need a permit to treat the trees and the village would reserve the right to remove a tree if needed.
During her presentation to the village board's committee-of-the-whole meeting this week, Clark acknowledged that the fight against the small green beetle is becoming a drain on the village's ability to continue its tree-by-tree inspection.
In a memo to the village board, Clark noted that the village has 294 infested ash trees, and already has used $27,000 of the $155,000 available for tree removal this year.
"We estimate it will take approximately $70,000 to contractually remove the remaining infested ashes that are still standing," she wrote.
"To be very blunt," she later wrote, "without additional staffing/resources, I believe we will soon need to lower some of our standards and perhaps change some of our priorities."
The village is planning a public forum on the ash borer problem at 7 p.m. April 4 at the Public Works/Emergency Operations Center, 1720 W. Central Road.
Trustees indicated a willingness to give the proposal a chance.
Village Manager Michael Janonis, however, sounded a cautionary note.
"I think it's unrealistic to think everybody is going to step up and treat those trees," he said. "I don't think it's fair if 80 percent on a block will treat their trees and the other 20 (percent) don't. Is there going to be an expectation that the village is going to treat those trees, and is that equitable?"
He also asked what happens to trees if residents decide to stop treating them.