City Council mulls street tree-replacement policy
New Albany City Councilman Chip Fellows is concerned about dying street trees.
"We have mature trees (in the New Albany Links subdivision) that are 80 percent dead or more," he said Sept. 18.
Most of the trees have been infested by the emerald ash borer, a wood-boring beetle native to Asia. Ash trees infested by the beetle usually die within three to five years.
Fellows distributed photos of neighborhoods that are suffering from tree loss during the meeting. He said the New Albany Links Homeowners Association is ready to pay half of the cost to replace the dying street trees in the subdivision if the city will pay the rest.
Fellows said the estimated cost to replace the Links trees would be $16,000.
City Manager Joseph Stefanov said the city had budgeted $8,000 to replace trees in the Links and $8,000 replace trees in sections of the New Albany Country Club neighborhood. The city will remove the dying trees and each will be replaced with a 2.5-inch-caliper tree chosen by the city.
"This is an interim policy," Stefanov said.
Stefanov drafted a tree-replacement policy for City Council to approve Sept. 18. Council members said they want more information before approving the policy.
Council member Colleen Briscoe said the drafted policy was good. She suggested replacing trees neighborhood by neighborhood.
She also cautioned City Council to be leery of how much money is dedicated to tree replacement each year.
Fellows said it could cost the city $100,000 to replace all the dying trees if the city is paying half of the replacement costs.
New Albany Mayor Nancy Ferguson said that is one-tenth of the city's capital improvements budget.
Councilman Stephen Pleasnick said the city also might consider allowing homeowners or homeowners associations to pay extra and purchase a larger replacement tree to better match surviving street trees in their neighborhoods.