The tiny emerald ash borer is taking a huge toll on trees in the Town of Amherst, and folks in one neighborhood are upset.
Homeowners on Presidio Place, which runs parallel to Youngs Road, said the town could be doing more to remove the hundreds of dead trees threatening their personal safety and property.
Jessica Wilhelm, the mother of two small children, has a swing set and in-ground pool in her backyard, “They could fall right on the swing set. They could fall in our pool–our kids’ bedrooms are right here.”
The dead trees are on town property, which abuts the residents’ back fences. Falling limbs and falling trees have already damaged private property and knocked out power lines, but the neighbors are especially incensed because town crews started removing the dead trees, last year, and then stopped.
All of the dead ash trees were laid to waste by the emerald ash borer beetle over the last few years, and the swath of downed trees has left behind a wet marshland at Hershey Court and Youngs Road, which homewoners like Marlene Snedden call “the cesspool.”
“It is just an eyesore, it is a hazard.. You are waiting for something to fall, and some of them have fallen through people’s fences.”
Highway Superintendent Patrick Lucey said the town has approved more than a quarter million dollars to hire a private tree service to remove the dead trees, but the money is in next year’s budget.
Lucey points out there are two sets of power lines on either side of the town property, and National Grid has been taking down a lot of the trees along their wires.
“Once they’re completed, it’s possible then that the Highway [Department] can get back in there and eliminate the risk of interfering with the power lines, and then maybe we can do more sooner than having to go through a private contractor.”
The Presidio Place homeowners have collected more than 40 signatures on a petition to remove those dead trees immediately instead of next year, and they plan to show up, en masse, at Monday night’s town board meeting.
They say the need is immediate, because any damage or injuries due to those falling trees could lead to a liability for Amherst taxpayers.