Removal, pruning of 3,000 ‘high-risk’ trees approved by city

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(Cory Morse | MLive file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – An initiative to remove and prune 3,000 trees near city streets received a vote of approval from the Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The city will work alongside contracted tree services to handle 3,000 “high-risk” trees and 2,752 stump removals at a cost not-to-exceed $2.4 million, said David Marquardt, director of parks and recreation.

City park staff will handle about 25 percent of the work while $2.1 million of the job will be contracted out, starting in November, Marquardt said.

The forestry initiative will receive money from various city funds, including insurance, major and vital street funds, as well as from the park and recreation emerald ash bore fund, refuse and general operating fund contingency, Marquardt said.

The initiative will include trees already scheduled for removal or pruning. Priority two trees will be addressed after the six-month forestry initiative begins in November. The city will be able to let people know where trees are on the city’s priority list.

“As we’re beginning to remove and prune trees, we’re also working with nurseries and the community to identify ways to make it easy for homeowners to continue planting trees in our rights-of-way and continue planting trees on their private property,” Marquardt said.

The city invested in a tree inventory to identify trees that needed maintenance in the form of pruning or removal. Out of 85,000 trees in Grand Rapids public rights-of-way and in public places in the city, more than 1,500 were identified as high priority for removal, Marquardt said. About 1,400-1,500 were identified as high priority for pruning.

Commissioners agreed the work is important and the city should get to a point where regular maintenance addresses the bulk of tree removal and pruning, rather than people calling the city.

“We’ve had some significant storms where we’ve had some significant damage from trees and thousands of maple trees dying for no other reason than they’ve lived a long life,” said Mayor Rosalyn Bliss. “This is the natural progression but has brought us to the point where we have some high-risk trees.”

In May, a woman and child suffered minor injuries when a large tree branch fell on them in Riverside Park. High winds were recorded that day.

An “active recruitment” process is being launched to tackle the bulk of the forestry initiative work, said Third Ward Commissioner David Allen.

Despite the large amount of work and with winter approaching, Park Superintendent Joe Sulak said he is confident there is enough interest in the contract to complete the work in the six-month timeline. To aid in the process, they are separating the process into multiple bids, Sulak said.

Companies interested in bidding on the project can register as a vendor with the city through the online portal, using the code 96888 in their vendor profile.

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