CHICAGO (CBS) – Dozens of trees are potentially slated to secure the ax in West Lakeview, and residents have rallied to stop it.
As CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday night, these residents do not want the virtual clearcut seen in other neighborhoods to be repeated. They want all preservation options to be explored.
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The trees are decades old and towering – one is about 10 times taller than Kozlov herself, who is just over 5 feet tall. They could all be slaughtered by the city over the next few months for the replacement of water pipes.
So some people in the region are proactive – taking action and demanding that the city be more transparent about its plans.
Trees mean a lot to many people living on a two-block stretch of Paulina Street in West Lakeview – from Belmont Avenue to the six-lane intersection with Lincoln Avenue and Roscoe Street.
“The people in the neighborhood really care about the trees,” said Caroline Teichner.
That’s why when the rumor started that the city might be cutting down more than 20 trees on the two blocks, they contacted us.
“It’s just, you know, a devastating prospect,” said Rosemary Feit.
According to Ald. Matt Martin (47th), felling the tree would be part of a water pipe replacement project that should start after the holidays. But no official notice has been given to residents – which is a big concern.
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“It’s kind of like it’s happening under cover of darkness – which doesn’t sound like good public policy to me,” Feit said.
They are therefore mobilizing by launching a Facebook page to spread the word and push the city to explore all possible options to simultaneously save the trees and replace the water pipe.
“Until we are convinced that the city has actually considered alternatives and fully explored them,” Teichner said. “It sounds like a pretty drastic solution.”
Three months ago, Andersonville residents tried unsuccessfully to save trees in this North Side neighborhood. Their removal is also due to the replacement of water pipes.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Water Management said saving trees is a priority, but they often don’t know if they can be saved until they start digging. But neighbors on West Lakeview want more information on the plans long before digging even begins.
“Give people concrete steps they can take to voice their concerns,” Teichner said.
Ald. Martin said he asked the city’s water utility for a list of all viable options available to minimize the number of trees lost for the upcoming project. He’s still waiting for it.
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As to when the project will begin, Water Department spokeswoman Megan Vidas said it was scheduled after the holidays. The alderman hopes to organize a community meeting on this subject before the project starts – but even expects more precise information from him.