Chicago Has Backlog of Dead, Hazardous Trees Awaiting Removal, Records Show

Records kept by the city of Chicago show the number of dead or hazardous trees on city property is creating a backlog of service requests and residents may have to wait months for potentially problematic trees to be addressed.

Karl Slowiak said he has repeatedly voiced his concerns to the city about a tree located near the 4500 block of West Agatite Avenue. The tree is located on city parkway and is leaning on power lines and resting on a building owned by Slowiak’s wife.

“I just don’t want to see anybody get hurt and I don’t want to see my building get damaged,” Slowiak said.

City data shows 10,492 open service requests for “tree trims” since May. It’s important to note that some requests may have been made for the same tree.

Emily Vyncke and her mother were crossing the street at Oakley and McLean in Bucktown Saturday night when they were trapped by a falling tree. Luckily, they were not seriously injured.

While Vyncke said she didn’t know it at the time, the dead tree was scheduled to be removed after neighbors had called in concerns about it since June.

“Enough people in the area knew this was so dangerous,” Vyncke told NBC 5’s Chris Hush. “They were telling people to cross the street or walk far away from it.”

The Department of Streets and Sanitation said it works diligently to remove or trim trees that are dead or hazardous. A spokesperson said when the tree removal or trimming involves electrical lines, the department must collaborate and coordinate with ComEd to avoid any hazard to tree-trimmers and other passersby.

The city said it is working with ComEd to address the tree leaning on the building owned by Slowiak’s wife. Additionally, a spokesperson for 39th ward alderman Margaret Laurino said the city is doing its best to expedite the tree removal.

“I hate to see this go into where somebody gets hurt and there’s a tragedy and then they take action,” Slowiak said.

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