News - McHenry County

Huntley to help pay for replacing trees in residential parkways

‘The goal is to develop our tree canopy in the village and fill … as many vacant areas [as possible],’

After last year saw an all-time low in residents interested in a program that would reimburse them for planting new trees, Huntley is taking a different approach.

The village is relaunching a tree replacement program that will offer residents the chance to replace dying or decaying trees in the public parkway near their homes for $100, with the village taking on the rest of the cost. Residents can also apply if they have a spot where a tree could go.

The program was approved at the Village Board’s meeting Thursday, and $50,000 will be set aside for it for this year, according to village material. Trustees did not offer much comment on the program, but trustees Harry Leopold and JR Westberg said they liked the idea.

“I’m glad it’s coming back,” Westberg said.

The next step will be to fine tune the details and send notices out to residents to help increase participation, Huntley Public Works and Engineering Director Tim Farrell said.

“It’s just going to stay open indefinitely as long as there’s money available,” Farrell said.

The village gets a discount on the new trees to be planted by buying in bulk, Farrell said. The average tree will cost $350 to plant, which, with the $100 from residents, will knock that down to $250.

The village’s contractor will do the work, including planting the tree and mulching it, Farrell said. Trees will be planted during the spring and fall.

All trees planted will be about 12 to 14 feet tall, and care and maintenance of the new tree will be the responsibility of the homeowner, according to village material. “Healthy and thriving parkway trees,” which will be determined by the village, are not eligible.

“We’re not going to replace a healthy tree,” Farrell said.

There are nine types of trees available, including American Sentry linden, bur oak, Burgundy Belle maple, Heritage river birch, new horizon elm, quaking aspen, State Street maple, tuliptree and white oak, according to the order form.

Originally launched in 2009, the village’s tree replacement program was geared toward replacing ash trees affected by emerald ash borer, a beetle native to Asia that feeds on ash trees, Farrell said.

About a decade later, that program shifted to reimbursing residents for half the cost based on the size of the tree being planted. However, Farrell said residents often ended up taking on more than half the cost, as the reimbursement amount was capped.

“Those trees got more expensive over the years,” Farrell said.

As a result, residents’ interest in the program declined each year, with the past year seeing just nine people apply for the reimbursement program, Farrell said.

That program will remain an option as well this year, Farrell said.

The hope is the newest program, with $50,000 to boot, will be able to replace about 200 trees in the first year, according to village material.

Currently, Huntley has about 17,000 trees in its public parkway, with more than 3,000 vacant spots that could potentially hold a tree, Farrell said.

“The board will have to decide every year if they want to continue this,” Farrell said. “The goal is to develop our tree canopy in the village and fill … as many vacant areas [as possible].”

James Norman

James T. Norman

James also goes by Jake and became a journalist to pursue a love of writing. He originally joined the ranks to be involved with football, but over time fell in love with community reporting and explaining policies. You can catch him at his computer or your local meeting.