By Dedra Cordle
Like many communities across the country, the village of Urbancrest is dealing with an abundance of ash trees that have fallen victim to the emerald ash borer.
The residents in the village had hoped that the sight of AEP Ohio foresters marking trees last year would bring about a quicker end to the rapidly decaying trees, but it turns out they will have to wait a bit longer for that to happen.
During the February village council meeting, councilwoman Veronica Shepherd said she spoke with a representative with the forestry division and was told they would not be able to cut down the ash trees until 2017.
Vikki Michalski, the spokesperson for AEP Ohio, said the decision to postpone the clearing was due to a lack of funds that were set aside specifically for an ash tree removal program.
She said communities were now back to their regular clearing cycle, and the village of Urbancrest is slated for next year.
“We’re not putting it off,” Michalski said. “We just do not have the funds available for that program.”
Resident Lois Burge expressed her disappointment with the news of the delay and asked if the council could do anything to remove the decaying ash trees throughout the village.
Though sympathetic, council members said there is little they can do beyond clearing ash trees in the public right-of-way.
“We can’t take public funds and use them to cut down trees on private property,” said councilwoman Shawn Moore.
However, she did suggest that residents form a volunteer group to try to raise funds to get infested ash trees removed throughout the village.
Fiscal officer Kathy Thimmes said she has heard of businesses offering discounts, especially in the winter when tree removal request slow down, to groups of residents who want trees removed from their properties.
The council said they think that the formation of a citizens group to combat infested trees is a good idea, but it was something the residents would have to take charge of as they will be able to do little for this matter.