Brookfield is ramping up the removal of ash trees and other diseased and damaged trees in 2018, awarding a $105,933 contract to Homer Tree Services to cut down about 300 trees this summer.

Village trustees voted to approve the contract at their meeting last week, and crews from Homer Tree Service are expected to get to work June 20, said Public Works Director Amy Wagner.

According to Wagner, the company said it can cut down all of the trees slated for removal in the span of a week. The company will also grind down all the stumps left by those removals, according to the terms of the contract.

“They want to get in fairly quickly,” Wagner said. “I’m not sure how doable [a week] is, but I’m pretty excited about getting this taken care of.”

Most of the trees slated for removal are ash trees that have succumbed to the emerald ash borer. The ash borer surfaced in Brookfield in 2012 and devastated the village’s stock of ash trees, which at one time numbered between 1,200 and 1,300.

According to Wagner, the rest of the diseased ash trees remaining on village parkways will be removed this summer. However, some ash trees will remain. White ash – the species whose leaves turn maroon and gold in the fall – appear to be resisting emerald ash borer infestation. Those trees have not been marked for removal this year.

The removals by Homer Tree Service will supplement those done in-house by public works’ forestry department. So far in 2018, the department’s four employees have taken down 40 trees, said Wagner.

Back in March, Wagner recommended boosting the village’s budget for tree removals in 2018 to $100,000 by shifting dollars to that effort in place of trimming and spring planting. The village had fallen behind in its removals, and there are still many stumps from prior-year removals that remain in the ground.

By boosting the amount earmarked for removals by an outside firm, Wagner argued earlier this year, it would free up in-house staff to do tree trimming.  

Wagner said she hopes that later in the year, the village can extend its contract with Homer Tree Service to remove those stumps.

“First we want to see how this contract goes and maybe have them come back later if they’ll honor their prices [for stump removal] next fall,” Wagner said.

In 2017, the village hired Homer Tree Service to remove 142 trees and grind 350 stumps. The original contract that year was for $48,522 and was extended last fall by another $24,261.

Also in 2017, Brookfield paid Bluder Tree Service $18,000 to do tree trimming and $30,000 to plant trees.