Arlington Heights will pay half the cost of treating parkway ash trees up to $50 per tree, the village board decided Monday night.
The board reversed its December decision and decided to reimburse residents who pay to have their ash trees commercially injected with a product called Tree-age to kill emerald ash borers.
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While this could cost the village $649,000, staffers said they would be surprised if enough residents take advantage of the program to spend the $200,000 allocated by the village.
The board approved a one-time payment, even though trees must be treated every two or three years.
Arlington Heights has 13,000 ash trees on the parkways, and removing and replacing them would cost $11.2 million.
The village still feels the trees should be removed and replaced, Village Manager Bill Dixon said. The big fear is that they will have to be replaced even after treatment, he said.
The decision is retroactive so community groups and residents who have already had their trees treated can be reimbursed. The program will last through Oct. 31, 2013.
"If the village provides cost sharing, all village residents help pay regardless if there's a tree in front of their homes or not," Dixon said.
The village has inventoried ash trees on parkways and has tied ribbons around them to identify them.
While only one neighborhood group, Heritage Park, has treated a number of its trees, at least four others are gearing up to get residents to join and pay for treatment. The groups include Cedar Glen and Surrey Ridge West on the south side and Berkeley Square on the north.
Northgate, another north-side neighborhood, has $35,000 contributed by 265 homeowners, said Laurie Taylor, president of the association.
Trustee Joseph Farwell said ash trees might survive as long as 60 years in a suburban environment rather than the 35 years expected in urban areas.
"This is a basic service," said Farwell, comparing it to water, garbage removal, and police and fire protection.
The vote was unanimous.
Trees can be treated between the spring and fall, said Dru Sabetello, village forester.