Libertyville's fight against the tree-killing emerald ash borer will continue this season with help from an outside contractor.
As it has for the past few years, the village's plan to manage the beetle involves work by village crews and hired help to remove and treat trees, grind stumps and restore parkways.
This year, the village has budgeted $290,000 toward the use of contractual services for its emerald ash borer management plan. That includes about $19,000 for treatments, $25,000 for stump grinding and parkway renovation and $500 to notify residents through mailings.
The remainder will be used for the removal of approximately 264 trees. The village board this week approved a contract not to exceed $245,500 with Trees "R" Us, Inc. of Wauconda for that task.
Tree "R" Us was the lowest of three companies seeking the work with a bid of $700 for trees of 13 inches to 20 inches in diameter, and $1,200 for trees 21 inches to 30 inches.
Village crews hope to remove another 200 trees this year, said Jim Barlow, parks superintendent. Nearly 500 ash trees have been removed in the past three years but there are 2,356 ash trees in public parkways, meaning the program will continue.
"We're just plugging away," Barlow said. "As money becomes available, we just put our resources toward it. I figure in four or five years, we'll have everything under control."
This year, work will occur throughout the village to remove the worst infested and largest ash trees, but that effort is expected to be concentrated on the southwest side.
Last year, the village spent $47,300 on a contract to remove the largest infected trees.
"It's tough because everybody is saying, `Why aren't' you doing mine?'" Mayor Terry Weppler said. "We'd love to be able to if we have the money but we don't. We're doing it as quickly as we can."
The funding and plan of action is more ambitious in Vernon Hills, where the peak of the beetle's impact is expected this year and next. Vernon Hills will spend about $1.1 million during that time, with about 1,100 trees to be removed each year.
David Brown, public works director/village engineer, said the removal and replacement of this year's batch is expected to be complete by the Fourth of July. Vernon Hills will have about 460 ash trees remaining by 2016.
Libertyville does not have parkway tree replacement policy but will pay half the cost if a resident wants to do so.