Andersonville and Edgewater residents are frustrated by city infrastructure projects that either take or plan to take healthy trees.
One project in Andersonville is threatening 16 trees, including six mature catalpas and maples, to make way for a new water main.
In Edgewater, meanwhile, every tree lining the 5900 block of North Hermitage was cut down June 15. Residents, including new 40th Ward Alderman Andre Vasquez, were notified less than a day before. He said word of the tree removal may have not gotten out because of the busy election campaign, and the transition afterward.
“What we eventually found out was that they had actually communicated to my predecessor in October,” Vasquez said in an interview. “… So we, ultimately, did not know until the neighbors let us know.”
Andersonville residents are hoping to avoid the same fate in the 1400 blocks of Farragut, Berwyn and Summerdale. Lesley Ames, Tree Committee Chairperson for the East Andersonville Resident Council, said her job is to make sure the alderman and the community value their trees.
Ames said residents are urging the city to consider the Cured-in-Place-Pipe (CIPP), a system that requires access holes to accommodate pipes. After the holes are dug, a hose is pulled through the old water main, creating a new one. The Chicago Water Department did a pilot program of the pipe in 2017 but concluded that it was a failure, with the department citing water quality failures and questionable durability, according to a report in Block Club Chicago. But a number of cities in Illinois currently use the technique, including Rockford, Arlington Heights, Lombard, and Evanston, Ames said.
Ames said she hopes the city “encourages a city-wide tree ordinance” or “an advisory board to protect Chicago’s trees.”
Vasquez said he’s working with 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins on a new “Save the Trees” ordinance, and for another CIPP pilot program. It’s on the agenda in the City Council for the September meeting, Vasquez said, adding that 35 of the 50 aldermen support it.
The RogersEdge Reporter reached out to 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman’s office and received the following statement from his communications assistant, Ally Brisbin:
“This issue remains a priority for Alderman Osterman. He has engaged the mayor’s office to look at any and every option available to provide clean water to our neighbors and to prevent the loss of trees in Andersonville. He is awaiting the findings of the mayor’s office’s review of the matter.”
Anyone interested in saving the Andersonville trees can visit this link to sign the petition.