For residents with street trees that are dead or dying ash trees that don’t want to wait for city contractors, the city parks department is offering reimbursement of about 40 percent of the cost of removing the tree:
•Applicant must be owner of property where tree is located.
•The city will not remove trees on private property.
•The tree cannot be currently on the contracted removal list.
•Applicant is responsible for securing an estimate from a bonded and insured contractor.
•Applicant and/or contractor must agree to remove the tree and stump per city specifications.
•The applicant and/or contractor shall be responsible for the marking of all utilities prior stump removal.
•The applicant and/or contractor will be responsible for any and all damage to public and/or private property.
•The applicant is responsible for providing a paid invoice to the Parks and Recreation Department to be eligible for reimbursement. Reimbursement will be issued after the site passes inspection.
•Staff from the Parks and Recreation Department will confirm the tree species (ash only), location, and measurement before approval.
FORT WAYNE — Crews have removed thousands of the ash trees that once lined the streets of Fort Wayne, but it could take years to remove the 5,000 that remain.
For those with a dead or dying ash tree in front of their house, there’s now an option besides paying a contractor to remove it or waiting for city crews to get to it.
In a program announced Wednesday, the Parks and Recreation Department will reimburse about 40 percent of the cost of removal, from $30.42 for trees 6 inches or less in diameter at chest height to $444 for those that are more than 37 inches in diameter at chest height.
The program is available for ash trees only in the city right-of-way, not privately owned trees, and applicants must get prior approval – that maple that dumps too many leaves on your lawn in the fall is not eligible.
Ash trees across the region have been devastated by the emerald ash borer, and up to 30 percent of Fort Wayne’s street trees were ash. Crews have removed more than 8,500 ash trees, but there are 5,000 more to be cut down. The city has budgeted to remove about 2,000 more this summer, but it could be 2015 before the rest are taken down.
“It’s safe to say it’s an ash tree and you’re not treating it, it’s infested,” said Chad Tinkel, city arborist.
City Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, said the program is a welcome option. He said the dead ash trees near his home gave him “a couple of sleepless nights” debating whether to bear the cost of having them taken down or waiting for overburdened city crews to get to them.
“It empowers citizens to choose their own timeline to have their tree removed at a reduced price, and it will speed up the process of clearing out the dead trees in our neighborhoods,” Jehl said.
Parks Director Al Moll said the department is taking down as many ash trees as it can, but there just isn’t money to take them all down this year. The city is spending about $1.1 million on removing street trees this year; there are thousands more trees in city parks yet to deal with.
“It’s a great program,” Moll said. “I don’t see how anyone could balk at this.”
He said that neighborhood associations could work with an approved tree contractor to get a volume discount on removals, lowering the price even further.
Moll said any trees taken down under the program are a success, but he hopes for up to 500. He also said that anyone with a street tree that appears to be an immediate hazard should call the parks department and it will be considered for immediate removal at no cost to the homeowner.
Officials estimated they will need to replace about 10,000 street trees but aren’t worried about replacement costs because so many people are willing to donate toward planting trees. Donations for cutting them down, however, have been a much tougher sell.
Still, for those who have already had ash trees removed and don’t want to wait a year or two for a replacement, officials have also lowered the cost of replacement trees from $75 to $50.
Street trees will be planted in the fall, and residents can choose from tree varieties.
More information on the removal and replacement programs is available at www.fortwayneparks.org or by calling 260-427-6400.