Residents of five Arlington Heights subdivisions have joined together to ask the village to continue reimbursing them for half the costs of treating ash trees to fight off infestation from the deadly emerald ash borer.
Members of the Save Our Ash Coalition -- including representatives from the Northgate, Northgate5, Arlington Terrace, Surrey Ridge West and Heritage Park subdivisions -- told the village board of their success in treating ash trees and asked that the village extend its commitment to help residents pay for treatment.
"To walk down a street under the canopy and see what we have accomplished is simply wonderful," said Laurie Taylor of the Northgate subdivision, where 450 trees were treated last year. "We are currently in the midst of rebuilding our urban forest here in Arlington Heights. It's in all of our best interests, economically and environmentally, to treat these trees and not lose all of the trees at the same time." Arlington Heights is just one of many suburbs spending millions of dollars dealing with emerald ash borer, an invasive species that is killing thousands of ash trees in the Chicago area. Most municipalities are removing and replacing the trees but some, like Arlington Heights, are allowing residents to treat them instead.
Arlington Heights decided against treating all 13,000 ash trees in the village -- meaning that the majority will be taken down over the next several years -- but officials also instituted a 50/50 program where residents could be reimbursed 50 percent of the treatment costs, up to $50 per parkway ash tree, if they treat the tree with the village's preferred method, a trunk injection of TREE-age.
The program ended last month, after 2,670 trees were treated, according to the village. Of those, only five died.
Homeowners say they want the program extended because often trees need multiple treatments of TREE-age to survive, and because there are still thousands of trees in the village yet to be treated.
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let's see what we can do to keep the trees alive and have a nice neighborhood that we can all be proud to live in," said Tom McDonald of the Surrey Ridge West subdivision.
"If we lose our trees then we would lose a huge part of the character of our neighborhood," said Sam Moser of the Heritage Park neighborhood, where he said 150 trees have been successfully treated. "The citizens have pitched in to do their part and we would just like some support from the village to show that it's appreciated and that we're in this together."
Several trustees said they have also treated their trees and they appreciate the efforts of the homeowners.
Village Manager Bill Dixon said staff will study the issue and bring back a presentation to village trustees about the plausibility and implications of an extended cost-sharing project.