When the Hebron City Council hired Crowl Tree Service of Superior, the idea was to clear away overgrown and dead trees surrounding city power lines; power lines that were being revamped in a major maintenance project.
But when local residents in the neighborhood of Duffield Avenue and Seventh Street complained of large branches falling from three dying trees growing in a canal running through their neighborhood, the City decided to have the tree service take the trees out.
“They were already clearing away branches from power lines in an alley that runs through there,” said Mayor Shane Day earlier last month, “and after we checked the trees, we found they were dying, so we asked Crowl to take them out.”
Mayor Day said residents of the neighborhood complained of large tree branches dropping from the old Cottonwoods into yards and the street. He said one individual was afraid the large branches would land on one of his vehicles or cause some other damage to his personal property.
The mayor said the neighbors were asked by the tree service what they wanted removed and the service and city workers were told they wanted the canal cleared.
“It’s the city’s responsibility to keep the canal clear of limbs and debris for water flow,” said councilman Rich Koch Monday night during the regular council meeting. But everyone on the board said they were surprised when all the trees had been removed. Not all were dying.
“The job cost $3,900,” said Mayor Day, “and that was the bid for the three trees. We (the board and city workers) were under the impression that only those trees were removed until we saw it. We weren’t billed for the extra work, but we, and apparently Crowl’s, thought it’s what the neighbors wanted.”
The project took three days to complete during a two-week period in January. Snowstorms delayed work.
When the work was done, the three dead trees were gone, but so too were all the trees that grew there and now erosion is the major concern. “We won’t remove any of the stumps because we need to keep the roots there to hold the sides of the canal in place,” Mayor Day said last month. “We’ll shave the stumps down this spring so they aren’t sticking out of the ground so high and plant smaller trees and bushes for erosion control and to look nicer.”
Filling in the canal with dirt is out of the question as it was put in to control drainage; however, according to one of the neighbors, it doesn’t seem to fill with water like it used to. Drainage has changed over the decades with the installation of a pond, road improvements, and other land work.
Councilmen Kurk Wiedel and Robert Dodes are investigating planting new smaller trees and hedges in the area in an effort to answer the erosion issue. “We’ve been working with the neighbors to fix the problem,” said councilman Wiedel. “Our biggest worry is the erosion.”
Mayor Day said Monday night the board is treating the canal much the same way as terrace trees. “We have to keep trees trimmed back from the streets and sidewalks even if they sit on private property, and to do that we try to work with property owners and take suggestions from them about how to make their trees look the best for their property,” he said. “That’s what happened with the canal.”