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Posted on: July 20, 2020

Prospect Avenue Catalpa Tree: Resident Open House on August 5

The Village has received numerous inquiries related to the proposed removal of the Northern Catalpa tree on the corner of Prospect Avenue and Reid Street in relation to the 2020 Prospect Avenue Improvements Project. The tree in question is planned for removal due to the following:

Existing Tree Condition – The Village received grant funding from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) via the Morton Arboretum in 2020 to complete a tree inventory and assessment of all public trees. The Illinois Certified arborists contracted to perform the inventory rated the Northern Catalpa a 5 out of 6, with 6 being a dead tree. The criteria for a tree rated a 5 is below:

The tree is not typical of the species and /or has over 50% deadwood in the crown, major decay or structural problems, is hazardous or is severely involved with insects, disease or other problems that even if aggressively corrected would not result in the long-term survival of the tree.

The unique shape of this tree is the result of the poor location and years of improper pruning, mostly by ComED to ensure the tree did not impact overhead wires. A healthy Catalpa tree of this maturity would be approximately 40-60’ in height. It would also have a significantly different shape and profile.

Impacts from Roadway Construction – The reconstruction of Prospect Avenue requires the removal and replacement of all existing curb, roadway pavement, and portions of the roadway base. On average, this results in excavation occurring vertically 24”-36”, spanning from 1’ behind the curb on both sides of the street. The existing tree is inches away from the existing curb line, which will result in impacts to a large portion of the root structure.

Reid Street/Prospect Avenue Turning Radius Changes – The turning radius of Reid/Prospect is being adjusted to meet current Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) standards. The adjustment allows for the safe travel of cars, along with larger vehicles (snowplows, garbage trucks, delivery/moving trucks, etc.) around the corner. The existing radius is very close to the standard, but the new proposed curb will need to move a few inches closer to the tree. The adjacency of the tree to the existing curb line also creates a sight line issue for vehicles in the area.

As it has for over 35 years, each year the Village strives to retain the title of Tree City USA. The Tree City USA status stresses the importance of a healthy urban forest, which often requires the removal of poor quality trees coupled with diverse re-plantings. Trees are one of the greatest assets to the Village, but they can quickly become safety and financial liabilities once their health declines.

The Village has scheduled a resident open house for Wednesday, August 5, 5:00 – 7:00 pm at the location of the Northern Catalpa. Residents are invited to arrive at any time during the open house hours, to meet with staff and provide feedback on potential replacement option. For the safety of all in attendance, please wear a face covering.

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