Arborist recommends plan to treat, rather than remove, ash trees infested by bug

Posted: Nov. 19, 2012 11:35 pm Updated: Dec. 4, 2012 12:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Once the emerald ash borer arrives, the removal of an ash tree in Quincy would cost between $750 and $1,000 each, creating a potential $1 million pricetag if all of the city's ash trees would be affected.

Jeff Palmer, a certified arborist with tree injection technology company Arborjet, told city officials and area nurseries before Monday's City Council meeting that many communities have decided to stem removal costs by treating ash trees that have been infested with the bug.

"You can actually protect your ash trees -- at least the good healthy ones -- for a lot less money than it costs to remove the trees," he said.

Palmer advocated for the use of an injectable treatment that protects the ash tree for two years. This treatment costs about $60 per tree, and cities typically have their employees administer it.

"The bottom line is treatments do work," he said. "If we're going to remove trees, we're going to remove trees that are in poor condition and in poor locations, and we're going to protect trees in good locations that are providing value to our city. It's called an integrated (management) approach."

Palmer said ash trees support property values and help communities deal with storm water mitigation. For example, "the reason that the city of Milwaukee treats 27,000 ash trees is that they can't afford the additional millions of gallons of storm water runoff going into their sewers."

Plans for treatment could be spread over a 20-year period instead of a shorter plan calling for the removal of all ash trees.

"It's going to save cities money, and it's also going to save residents the headache of coming home to that once tree-lined street that is now empty," Palmer said.

The emerald ash borer, which is native to Asia, was first discovered in Detroit in 2002 and has killed millions of trees in the Midwest and Canada. It was first discovered in Illinois in 2006 and has caused the destruction of ash trees in Chicago and the Bloomington/Normal area.

A 2000 survey showed 1,042 ash trees on city-owned property in Quincy, representing 9 percent of the city's 11,592 trees.

During the council meeting, aldermen approved a contract with Shortridge Construction for $55,448 to remodel the former transit building at the southeast corner of 18th and Seminary Road for classroom space for the Quincy Regional Emergency Services Training Center. Money for the project will come from the city's capital budget and from John Wood Community College.

Classroom space previously was available at Quincy University's North Campus. The City Council last week agreed to terminate that lease at the end year.

Two contracts also were approved to buy equipment through the Illinois Safe Routes to School Program.

The city will buy 15 speed display boards and timers from CDS Office Technologies for $49,560. The signs will be installed near seven schools -- Adams, Madison, Dewey, Washington, St. Peter, St. Francis and Quincy Junior High School. Eighteen blinker stop sign paddles also will be bought from Tapco, Inc. for $2,970.

Aldermen heard that the city collected $745,772 in sales tax in August, an increase of 5 percent from last year. The city also brought in $752,879 from the home rule sales tax in August, an increase of 3.5 percent from last year.

The City Council concurred with recommendations of the Plan Commission to:

º Approve the site and building plans for First Farm Credit Services at 5317 State.

º Rezone 1521 and 1529 Broadway as limited local commercial. A parcel of land at 213 N. 48th was also rezoned as limited local commercial.

º Issue a special permit allowing the sale of package liquor at 2802 Broadway. Alderman Jennifer Lepper, R-5, abstained from the vote because her father, Dennis Boudreau, owns the strip mall.

The City Council also:

º Agreed to reject all bids and prepare new bid specifications to rebid the main pump station heating replacement project. Utilities Director David Kent told aldermen that the bids came in 50 percent above the engineer's estimate.

º Watched the swearing in of Quincy Firefighter Ryan Willingham.

º Acknowledged the Project Red Ribbon effort through Jan. 1.

º Proclaimed Saturday as Small Business Saturday.