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City, campus to replace fallen trees

POSTED AT 09:16 PM ON Jun. 1, 2011 

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Last week’s powerful storms that downed hundreds of trees and spawned a tornado have left the City of Bloomington and IU facing high cleanup costs.

The City of Bloomington may pay “tens of thousands of dollars, at least,” Jared Schlemmer, the city’s communications director, said.

Approximately 150 trees are down on city property, which includes trees in parks and along city roads.

Most of them will likely be replaced, Schlemmer said, and the city will do its best to replace them with trees of equivalent size and species.

Most of the costs associated with the cleanup effort can be attributed to the price of the trees that will eventually be replaced, the cost of gas from having to run so many city trucks, and the wear and tear on the equipment being used.

To give some perspective, Schlemmer said the city parks department usually replaces approximately 200 to 250 trees each year, which means that the storms last week caused almost a year’s worth of damage in a matter of days.

The money to pay for the unexpected costs of storm cleanup will come from the city’s rainy day fund, Schlemmer said.

The city’s approved 2011 budget states the projected amount in the fund for 2011 is more than $6 million.

On campus, at least 300 trees were lost during the storm, Tom Morrison, IU vice president for Capital Projects and Facilities,  said.

“Our goal is to replace all of them, if not more,” Morrison said.

Depending on the size of the trees, and factoring in long-term maintenance, the total cost of the project could be as much as $500,000, he said.

Morrison said there already is a tree program in place, and the funding would likely come from private sources, like IU alumni.

He said it was the worst storm damage the campus has seen in at least 30 years.
“On an annual basis, we always have a few trees go down, but never to this scale,” he said. “This was unique.”

Campus Division has been handling the removal of downed trees since last Monday, May 23, when, as a precursor to last Wednesday’s storms, dangerous weather toppled as many as 80 trees.

“It’s going slow but steady,” Campus Division manager Mike Girvin said. “But we’re making progress.”

Workers have been transporting the trees and branches to a parking lot near 13th Street and Fee Lane.

When the lot is full, Girvin said they plan to rent a large tub grinder and turning the debris into mulch.

Campus Division is stockpiling large logs and will later sell any marketable timber, he said.

“We’re anticipating heavy cleanup over the next 30 days, but we’ll really be working with this all summer,” Girvin said.

Morrison said the cleanup will be hard, expensive work, but that it gives the University a chance to make the campus look even better.

“The storm was devastating to the landscape,” Morrison said. “But we look at it also as an opportunity.”

 

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