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Arlington Hts. neighborhood wants the old maple trees back
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff

Arlington Heights resident Ginny Maier stands along her street where ComEd cut down all the trees that border the street except hers, which was exempted at her request.  

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/17/2008 12:06 AM

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Five years ago Karen Brucks lost a maple tree to an Arlington Heights street paving project.

She's still not over it.

"It was a beautiful tree that stopped the morning sun," said Brucks, who lives on South Gibbons Avenue. "Now I have this little crab tree. It leaves berries all over the place."

Last week, 26 trees were removed from the public parkway along Gibbons. While the same number of smaller crab apple trees will be planted in their spots next week, neighbors are still mourning the loss of their older, much larger trees.

About 25 homes between Northwest Highway and Kensington Road were affected.

"This was a very charming street and now it's ruined," said Debbie Kaiser, a Gibbons resident. "It ruins the curb appeal, which affects the value of our homes."

Throughout the year, ComEd trims trees damaged by storms or trees with branches close to power lines, since those branches could cause power outages, said Arlington Heights forester Owen Widmayer.

The trees can "become very unpleasing to the eye," so annually he and ComEd decide which groups of trees need to be replaced.

The trees on Gibbons Avenue were on this year's list.

"Most people want those bad-looking trees to come down," Widmayer said. "It looks so much better in a few years when the new trees are in and growing."

It's a future neighbors on Gibbons can't picture.

The new crab apple trees will be about six or seven feet tall and have trunks that are about two inches wide. They will grow to be about 20 to 25 feet tall, Widmayer said.

The removed trees were a mix of elms, ash and maples that were between 35 and 60 feet tall. Those trees were between 35 and 60 years old.

ComEd and the village have been doing such removals for more than 10 years with no complaints, Widmayer said.

He is not denying that South Gibbons Avenue has changed, but he is asking that neighbors give the new trees a chance.

"It's going to be the same neighborhood with a different look," he said.

The neighbors were all notified a month ago that the trees were going to be removed, Widmayer said.

"If they didn't want a tree to come down, they could have called us," he said. "I didn't hear from a single person."

Mary Budler, who lives on the 300 block of South Gibbons, said the letter wasn't that clear.

"It said there would be some tree removals and some tree trimmings," she said. "It didn't say that every single tree on my street was going to be cut down."

Budler said she was shocked at how quickly the trees were removed.

"I mean, Arlington Heights is known as a tree town," she said. "I feel like we were deceived."