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ComEd tree-trimming plan concerns DeKalb park board

DeKALB – With nerves still raw over ComEd’s tree-clearing on the Nature Trail, DeKalb Park District Board members are worried about planned tree-trimming just south of Hopkins Park.

ComEd plans to trim trees touching power lines on the property of Parkside Drive Apartments at 1329 Sycamore Road, which are adjacent to Hopkins Park, said Paul Callighan, ComEd’s director of external affairs.

Callighan said Tuesday that he didn’t know how many trees would be trimmed, how much they would be trimmed or when the work would take place, but he was adamant the trees would remain.

“It is trimming,” Callighan said. “We’re not removing anything.”

At a recent park board meeting, board member Keith Nyquist raised concerns about what ComEd’s plans for the trees, which create a natural buffer between the apartments and the south end of the park.

“This is a company that generally has an operating philosophy of asking for forgiveness, not permission,” Nyquist said, pointing to the Nature Trail.

In November 2012, work crews hired by ComEd clearcut 1.3 miles of trees and brush on the power line right-of-way along the park district’s Nature Trail between Sycamore Road and First Street to avoid problems with power lines.

“If they were going to do that, they should have been forthright and forthcoming and instead, they weren’t,” Nyquist said. “And I’m very, very deeply concerned this is going to happen again.”

ComEd, the park district and the DeKalb County Forest Preserve since have planted new shrubs and wildflowers, and some sumac trees are growing along the trail.

Callighan said the power lines in question near Hopkins Park are not as high voltage as the ones along the Nature Trail. He reiterated that park-owned trees would likely not be affected.

“Certainly, we understand the concerns with the park district and the issues with tree trimming,” Callighan said. “This particular issue involves trees that are on the property of the apartment complex that are on the south side – to the best information I have – not trees that are on the park district property.”

ComEd, park district and apartment officials plan to meet Friday morning to discuss the work.

Park board President Phil Young agreed the park district should be diligent in monitoring any work ComEd does on park district property, a philosophy he said adopted after the Nature Trail clearing.

“I think we need some sort of plan written out as to what they’re going to do,” Young said.

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