Trees Winning New Friends at Public Works

Mark Thoman

Sat, Dec 15, 2007 at 4:16 PM

To: Robin Weaver , Kerstin von der Heide

Cc: “Pavlicek, Cara”

Ms. Weaver, Ms. von der Heide, et all,

I live at the SE corner of 61st and Carpenter Streets, which will undergo a major multi-month construction project starting this spring. My reason for writing (I will follow up with you, Ms. Weaver, if possible prior to Council’s Tuesday meeting), is to see if it is possible to meet with yourself and our Village Forester Ms. von der Heide, and whomever else you feel would be an invested party, for the purpose of discussing modifications to sidewalk placement along Carpenter.

I am not protesting sidewalks, and do not seek to delay or prevent their installation. What I do seek is to keep intact as many non-ash trees along Carpenter as is possible, and to make this an ongoing objective for all future sidewalk projects. This will require rethinking the typical linear 5′ wide sidewalk placed 1′ off property lines. Ms. von der Heide is aware when the sidewalk was placed along 61st Street, that I was in favor of the sidewalk, and devastated by the lack of thinking that went into removal of a 40 year old healthy maple 16′ from the street. When the snow clears you will still be able to plainly see where the botched trunk grind/sodding has resulted in a dead depression in my front yard, and how unnecessary the removal really was.

Moving forward, we as a village must place a prime value to our remaining non-ash, non-invasive mature tree inventory, and be creative in replacing the ash population that we will lose as quickly and affordable as possible.

What I ask the village to consider, and this project can serve as the test bed, is to re-engineer the sidewalk component, to rethink the placement so as to avoid taking down trees.

I’ve looked at the plans- the sidewalks are the typical straight lines, and it looks like they will take out significant numbers of non–ash trees and shrubs. These trees contribute to minimizing the extensive storm water problems my neighbors have to the north on Carpenter, and help keep water from cascading down onto my neighbors to the south. Their loss would be a tragedy, but I believe it can be reduced to an absolute bare minimum by thinking it through starting now, several months ahead of the project. Simple judicious planning, open minded engineering, and sensitive project management can avoid the prospect of any street losing fully grown, mature non-ash tree stock, even with sidewalks being installed for children and pedestrian safety. Having a sidewalk meander slightly as it travels down a parkway is a small price to pay in order to skip 40 years spent growing a replacement tree canopy.

To that end, existing mature non-ash trees on public property and parkways must take priority over future planned sidewalks. This will take a different mindset than what has been normal in the past, but our tree future is not normal, and we cannot take out trees that take 40 years to replace, simply so a sidewalk can be laid in a straight line.

I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and whom you think appropriate at a mutually convenient time to discuss this matter in more detail, and I am willing to volunteer my time to assist in any way I am able, to effect a positive change in the sidewalk process that results in saving non-ash trees.

I don’t have Kerstin’s email. I guessed at her e-address, and would appreciate you forwarding this to her if I missed.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to meeting with you on this very important issue.


Best Regards,

Mark Thoman
1109 61st Street,
Downers Grove, IL 60516-1820
HP 630-852-7260 WP 630-515-1186
F
630-515-1189 M 630-750-5179


Mon, Dec 17, 2007 at 9:04 AM

To: Mark Thoman

Good luck on this one. I noticed at our old house, when they ran the sidewalk through, they whacked the beautiful 20’ Burr Oak that I had nurtured from a small sprig. And from your personal experience, there doesn’t seem to be much sensitivity on this issue at Village Hall.


From the 12/18/07 Village Council Meeting minutes:

“Mr. Thoman said he attended a meeting last week with the Village Forester who made a presentation regarding the potential Emerald Ash Borer infestation, saying that this will wipe out most of our ash trees. He said the Village needs an aggressive plan for tree replacement.

Trouble will come with the installation of sidewalks. He reviewed the process for installing sidewalks, saying that the retention of trees is a higher priority than ruler-straight sidewalks. His area is scheduled for sidewalk installation, which will mean removing a number of trees and shrubs. Installing a meandering sidewalk, rather than ruler-straight, would allow some trees to be saved.”


Weaver, Robin

Wed, Jan 2, 2008 at 4:49 PM

To: Mark Thoman

Cc: “Pavlicek, Cara” , “von der Heide, Kerstin” , “Millette, Mike”


Hello Mr. Thoman. I wanted to let you know that we haven’t forgotten your e-mail request for additional care and saving of trees along our projects, especially since we will be losing a substantial number of trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer. Between snow and ice control activities and vacation schedules we haven’t had a chance yet to review your specific area and the work scheduled there. Within the next two weeks we should be able to review the site and the plans and discuss them as they relate to tree preservation. I will get back to you at that time.

Robin Weaver
Interim Director of
Public Works
Village of Downers Grove
630-434-5461
rweaver@downers.us


Mark Thoman

Thu, Jan 3, 2008 at 9:14 AM

To: “Weaver, Robin”

Cc: “Pavlicek, Cara” , “von der Heide, Kerstin” , “Millette, Mike”

Ms. Weaver:

Thank you for the update. At this point with the EAB, it should come as no surprise my very strong support for Ms. von der Heide and her tree ordinance. Other communities in the Chicago area (and elsewhere) have shown that a tight tree ordinance can be a very positive addition to the community. It is critical that, if as a village we are to regulate protection of non-ash, non-invasive tree species, we set the regulatory bar very high for the private sector by how we treat existing tree stock on public land, and that means top priority to keeping existing trees intact and unharmed.

Thanks again for keeping me informed.


Best Regards,

Mark Thoman
1109 61st Street,
Downers Grove, IL 60516-1820
HP
630-852-7260 WP 630-515-1186
F
630-515-1189 M 630-750-5179
markthoman.blogspot.com


Weaver, Robin

Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM

To: Mark Thoman


Hello Mr. Thoman. In our internal joint review of the plans for work on
Carpenter Street we determined that the plans call for the removal of 20 trees. There is room to instead locate the sidewalk further into the Right-Of-Way (closer to the street) and avoid almost all of the trees.
It is likely that two trees will be removed. So, design changes are being made to the plans. We will also take precautions to protect the trees, just as we require private developers to protect public trees. Now that we’ve enacted an internal process to jointly review all the capital projects in advance of design, our work will be better planned, have fewer conflicts and be more efficient by incorporating capital and operating considerations.

Your interest in this project and interest generally in our parkway tree program is appreciated.

Robin Weaver
Interim Director of Public Works
rweaver@downers.us
630-434-5461


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