North Side neighbors seek to save their trees
The city will need to remove trees to replace a water main that’s more than 100 years old. Rosemary Feit, who lives on the block and is seeking alternatives, said “Trees provide a vital and unquantifiable contribution to our neighborhood.”
Residents on a leafy stretch of Paulina Avenue on the North Side want their street to remain that way: leafy.
The city has slated a number of trees for removal — exactly how many is unclear — in order to replace water mains that are more than a century old.
The work is scheduled to begin in January on Paulina between Roscoe Street and Belmont Avenue.
“Trees provide a vital and unquantifiable contribution to our neighborhood,” said Rosemary Feit, an attorney who lives on the street and is organizing neighbors to save the trees.
Feit said she’s worried the city will end up removing all the trees on the east side of the street.
“We’re trying to talk to anyone in city government who can help us and slow the process down and search for alternatives,” she said.
Ald. Matt Martin (47th) said he plans to hold a community meeting on the issue and has asked the Department of Water Management what other options are available, like possibly moving the location of where the water main runs underground.
“They need to open the ground up first to see where root structures are,” Martin said.
Megan Vidis, a spokeswoman for the Department of Water Management, said the city “takes the decision to remove old growth trees very seriously.”
She pointed out the water main was installed in 1899 and some tree removal would be necessary for the project.
“We respect their importance to our environmental health, home values and the beauty of our city. We are always looking for infrastructure maintenance and repair options to save trees,” she said.
The decision to remove a tree is made on a case-by-case basis with forestry services workers from the Department of Streets and Sanitation, Vidis said, adding that a total of $46 million out of the city’s latest budget will go to planting and maintaining 75,000 new trees over the next five years.
Feit has gone door to door to pass out flyers in the neighborhood and created a West Lakeview Trees Facebook page that has more than 200 members.
“What happens in West Lakeview will be a precedent for other city neighborhoods,” Feit wrote on the Facebook page.