Edgeville Buzz

After A Long Decision, Century-Old Andersonville Trees Will Have To Come Down

After months of reviewing the possible options to save century-old trees along four East Andersonville side streets to make way for private sewage drains, Alderman Harry Osterman has announced that they will in fact need to come down.

The residents who live in the area fought hard to keep the trees from being cut down, but in the end the Department of Water Management and the Bureau of Forestry came to the conclusion that they will need to be removed to make way for the installation of the drains according to IEPA Title 35 water sewer separation requirements and the Chicago Plumbing Code. The work is part of a large-scale project in Andersonville that has been replacing water mains and sewage pipes which have been there as long as the trees.

The Alderman explained in a statement that Commissioner Randy Conner, of the Department of Water Management, contacted him with the final decision after a long review which also involved the 48th Ward Office, the Department of Forestry, and the Illinois EPA.

“The removal of the trees is necessary for the contractor, NPL, to complete the ongoing water main replacement work per IEPA requirements,” the Alderman wrote. “Per Commissioner Conner, the IEPA has stated that they do not waive compliance requirements, even in situations where trees or utilities create conflicts that obstruct sewer drain replacement. My office will continue to work with the Department of Water Management and the Department of Forestry to communicate schedules, impacts, and restoration throughout the remainder of the water main replacement project.”

Trees needed to be removed are:

  • W. Summerdale Ave: 1420, 1426, 1438-42
  • W. Berwyn Ave: 1410, 1416
  • W. Farragut Ave: 1406-10, 1426-28, 1436, 1438, 1448, 1470
  • W. Balmoral Ave: Four trees have been added as potential conflicts at 1414 Balmoral, 1420 Balmoral, 1428 Balmoral, and 1436 Balmoral. The Department of Water Management will be working with the Bureau of Forestry to confirm the trees that will need to be removed. 

Over the last three months, East Andersonville residents have been actively working to stop the trees from coming down. They say that the affected mature trees provide many environmental benefits as well as shade, cooling, and beauty. According to them, planting new trees requires 50-70 years before they can match the CO2 absorption of older, well-established trees. 

Neighborhood meetings were scheduled and ideas have been pitched such as utilizing a special clause in EPA Title 35 that allows for special conditions that help work around the sewer line regulation. Another possibility was a process called directional boring which is a trenchless method of installing underground utilities such as pipe using a drilling rig. That process is considered to use minimal impact and offers significant environmental advantages over traditional drilling. However, none of the suggestions were able to help.

“I am committed to working with the Bureau of Forestry and the East Andersonville Residents Council to plant new trees in the area as soon as we are able to,” the Alderman added. “I know how difficult this decision is, but this is ultimately a safety issue for residents, as well as for the crews performing the work.”

There has been no official word on when the trees will come down, but the Alderman said his office will let residents know the construction schedule as soon as it becomes available.


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