Ward: Dead woodWritten by Lisa Renee Ward | | firstname.lastname@example.org
There were seven pieces of legislation before Toledo City Council at the July 5 agenda review for the yearly levying of special assessments. One concerning shade trees within public rights of way created the most discussion.
“The $3 million for tree assessment entails specifically what?” Councilman Tom Waniewski said.
“What are we as taxpayers getting for our dollars?” said Dennis Garvin, commissioner of Parks and Forestry. “Emergency service in the event of storms, clearing the right of way, if a tree or large branch lands on a house, we’ll take care of it.”
Removing trees, performing safety trims, tree replacement and stump removal were also part of the services that were performed in 2010 that total $3.1 million in assessments. Toledo has 90,000 trees that line the streets of Toledo.
Waniewski requested more details on services performed, how many trees were trimmed, removed and replaced in 2010 by forestry.
That was provided on July 7 from Timothy S. Burns, acting commissioner, Parks and Forestry, who wrote, “The Forestry Crews processed 5,329 trees in 2010 of which 2,873 were removed and an additional 2,456 trees had limbs that were trimmed. In addition, crews removed, 614 stumps.”
“Help me understand also the process of trees, when one is removed, we’ll be back in a year to take the stump out?” Waniewski said.
“Essentially, if a citizen calls, forestry has the entire inventory of trees computerized by address. Every citizen call, every call by a councilman, is chronicled on it,” Garvin said. “So if a citizen calls to have a tree trimmed or removed, a certified arborist looks at it within a week.”
There is a rating system on the health of the tree and the services performed are done on a priority basis.
“Many times a citizen will want an action on a tree that its health does not merit — they just want the tree cut down. We won’t cut down a healthy tree because someone doesn’t want it,” Garvin said.
“If it’s in poor health it’s going to get a higher priority. Unfortunately, I can’t get someone out right away as often as I would like to — for example — we had 7,700 ash trees. We’re just now getting the last 1,000 down,” he said. “We’ve got two contractors out there now, those that are being removed are completely standing dead.”
Garvin said the division of forestry has six crews that cover the entire city. When a tree is removed, stump removal does not take place until closer to the time a replant will take place.
“We try to get a tree replaced within a year — tree planting is twice a year, it’s in the spring and in the autumn,” he said. “We are behind in our tree replacement, our greater priority, frankly, is getting all these dead trees down.”
“There’s parts of the city in the Old West End, the Old South End, parts of West Toledo and the Central City in particular and the North End that still have blocks and blocks of just standing dead ash trees.”
Toledo has received $400,000 through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for ash tree removal and a $30,000 grant to replant ash trees that were removed in the Old West End. Garvin said he’d recently submitted a grant to seek funding for removing ash trees in parks.
During a July 6 phone call, Garvin said there are a lot of other Ohio cities the emerald ash borer is just getting into. “They are using Toledo as a model as to how to respond.”
“Is there any coordination between you and Toledo Edison for their private vendor, Penn Line, as they go through the neighborhoods and adjust the conditions of trees as it relates to the lines?” Toledo Councilman D. Michael Collins asked during agenda review.
“No, Edison works completely independent in the interest of maintaining their line clearance,” Garvin said. “Trees get topped, one sided, a great big “V” goes right through the middle of it, in the interest of maintaining power.”
“I know exactly where they are, because our citizens call us immediately screaming, ‘What are you doing to our trees’?”
Collins said it doesn’t do much for the eye appeal. Garvin agreed. “Whenever new trees are planted, we look up — and the new trees do not go anywhere near the height of a primary line,” he said.
The primary lines are 20 feet tall, the flowering trees used to replace shade trees only grow to 15 feet tall.
What happens to the cut trees and branches? They make two different kinds of mulch that Toledo uses for landscaping and sells to other local governments and the public.
If a tree falls in Toledo’s urban forest — forestry will mulch it.
Toledo Free Press Web Editor Lisa Renee Ward operates the political blog GlassCityJungle.com.