Why, after living in the village for over 40 years, do I have to repeatedly whistle-blow during parkway tree-pruning season? Because each time the lone elm in my parkway in the 900 block of Highland Avenue gets seriously and unnecessarily diminished by having harmless limbs lopped off at the trunk, as happened again on Jan. 15. There is no do-not-trim list, and complaining to the village does not prevent the process from being repeated.
I wish Kathryn Jonas were still alive to join my protest.
All I can do now is lament the demise of four branches that made my tree attractive and useful as a shade tree. As per American National Standards Institute guidelines for tree care, my tree is healthy, is not a threat to anyone’s safety, and is not a danger to anyone’s property (either my house or power lines). Nothing about it impedes vehicle or pedestrian traffic. I pay a tree service for annual treatment for it, and I pay a landscape person to keep it trimmed away from my house and the power lines. Yet one third of the tree’s major branches were cut off at the trunk, not trimmed back from the tips. Two of them were about 7 inches in diameter, and the other two about 4 inches, with the corresponding lengthy foliage.
Why does it matter to me? I’ve lost a significant amount of shade for my small, two-story house. I’ve also lost a natural screen that distanced me from looking down a two-block-long alley and at the three-story apartment building across the street. The tree also gave me significant privacy from the view of apartment dwellers.
Each time this happens, the tree looks more bizarre. And I see the same process up and down my block and along our streets. It’s called “lollypopping” the tree. You can see it all over Oak Park.
I thought we were an arboretum of some sort. Yet our own village sends out a squad of chainsaw commandos (contract workers from Haney and Davis) to hack away, with seemingly no regard as to how our trees actually can enhance our dwellings. Are these people paid by number of cubic yards of chips they can generate in a day? How much is it costing us? Where is the oversight here? Damage is done that is irreparable, and the results are pathetic.
I’ll humbly suggest a citizen advisory committee for the forestry department. Those 18,000 trees are, after all, ours. We could also set up a program for residents to adopt the tree(s) on their parkways so that any treatment would have to be mutually agreed upon. Meanwhile, I’ll hope to have them put my tree out of its misery and replace it with an undamaged one that can provide the beauty, shade, and screening that has vanished.
Bob Trezevant is a longtime resident of Oak Park and a former teacher in District 97.