Village Board Approves Emerald Ash Borer Plan
First year of 15-year plan would spend $223,000 to replace 400 trees.
The Whitefish Bay Village Board gave the green light to borrowing $194,000 to remove and replace 400 ash trees this year as the first phase of a 15-year effort to manage the emerald ash borer disease.
The emerald ash borer has been detected 22 miles away in Oak Creek and north near Saukville.
Last year, the village contracted with Wachtel Tree Service to create a 15-year management plan to prevent an outbreak in the village. The plan is set to kick into motion this year, and consultants recommend removing and replacing 400 ash trees, which would reduce the village's ash tree population by 10 percent.
The plan costs $223,824, but since the village's annual ash tree removal budget is set at $30,000, it would have to borrow about $194,000 to implement the plan. Interim Village Manager Matt Schuenke said the village has budgeted $500,000 over the next two or three years to pursue the program.
The Village Board’s action only applies to 2011, and Public Works Superintendent Kevin Kaegi said the plan would need to be re-evaluated annually.
“If its within 10 miles, we could be more aggressive or start the treatment process,” he said.
The board voted 5-2 to approve the recommended solution, with Trustees Kevin Buckley and Thomas Fehring voting against the proposal.
Trustee Richard Foster supported the proposal, saying forestry experts have told the Village Board the spread of the disease is "not a matter of if, but when."
"I think we should take a very aggressive approach to this," Foster said.
Both Fehring and Buckley said they supported an alternative option to spread the plan out over a two-year period, reducing the price tag to $97,000 per year. Kaegi said the alternative solution was originally drafted on the suggestion of former Village Manager James Grassman.
Buckley said he wanted more information about what other communities were doing to combat the disease before spending the money.
“It is committing $223,000 over time,” Buckley said. “Yes, we can amortize that, but it’s still a pretty substantial outlay for our community.”
Kaegi said Shorewood chemically treats trees in question, in addition to removing ash trees over time.