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THINKING OUT LOUD - More than just unique holes in the ground

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:52 PM

To: Mayor Lesch

Subject: Removal of Ash Trees

I guess it could be worse. I mean, we could be in Cleveland or Columbus or some other big city, and then it would really be sad.

I am referring to the need to remove ash trees to slow or stop the infestation of the emerald ash borer. What a bad bug! I suppose you know that in just the past five years this emerald ash borer has killed almost 20 million trees in Ohio plus surrounding states and Ontario, Canada.

In fact, I am guessing that not only did you know about it, but you probably had to approve the removal of all the ash trees in Norwalk city tree lawns. Must have been a very sad day for you. But, as I said, it is not as bad here as in Cleveland or Columbus.

In Cleveland, they are taking the pre-emptive action of removing 1,400 ash trees within the next two years at a cost of $900,000. And in Columbus this pains me even to write it they are cutting down 12,000 street-side ash trees before the emerald ash borer gets them. 12,000 trees! They are expecting it to cost $6 million.

The cost is bad, of course, but I just hate to lose the trees.

I figured we were in for it when I saw the ash wood quarantine signs go up on U.S. 250 a couple of years ago. That meant that the disgusting ash borer had been identified in our county.

And I knew you were starting to take action when my neighbor was notified a few months ago that the beautiful ash trees in front of his family's home all had to come down. It happened fast: one day there was a nice shady section of street and a couple of days later they were grinding out the stumps. Very bad.

Next I saw the many, many ash trees on Shady Lane Drive with white dots painted on them. The white dot of doom, as it turned out. In a just a day or two, a guy with a backhoe and a chain ripped all those handsome trees right out of the ground. I know those trees will be replaced with ones not susceptible to the emerald ash borer, but right now it looks like a bad trade, mayor: a bunch of beautiful ash trees getting turned into a bunch of sorry ash holes.

Executive Drive is getting the ash tree removal treatment, too. That street is lined with healthy young trees that have really taken hold over the past two or three years. But three weeks ago began the same sequence as Shady Lane: first the white dots of doom were sprayed on the ash trees, then the backhoe guy yanked the tree out of the ground, and finally as of this writing you see ash holes all up and down Executive Drive.

I know that you are not requiring removal of ash trees on private property, just on the city tree lawns. But the fact that the ash holes in question are city ash holes rather than private ash holes is small consolation.

It's a helpless feeling, mayor. As a property owner, you treat the city tree lawn as your own property. You walk across it to get your mail; you spray the weeds and mow the grass to make it look nice; and then, with little notice, you have to go out and kiss your ash goodbye.

As you can tell, I am frustrated by it all, but thanks for letting me vent on this subject, mayor. I know there is nothing you can do about it. In fact, I'll bet you are as troubled as I am by the removal of so many currently healthy trees in the name of future disease prevention. But I guess it has to be done. We each have our jobs to do and so be it.

You continue to make the smart ash decisions, and I will continue these smart ash columns.

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