Poland village officials weigh ash tree decision
By Jordyn Grzelewski
Residents on Tuesday weighed in on what the village should do about the large number of dead ash trees in Poland Municipal Forest.
The trees were killed by the emerald ash borer, a tree-eating insect.
“Whatever we do, at the end of the day, probably won’t satisfy everyone, but we have to do the best we can with the facts presented,” said Mayor Tim Sicafuse.
Some residents advocated removing dead ash trees, while others spoke vehemently against it.
Village council is weighing options that range from hiring loggers to harvest the dead trees, to cutting down only those trees in what are deemed high-risk areas, to leaving the forest in its natural state.
Council did not reach a decision Tuesday after the public hearing.
“The old lady is in sad, sad shape. ... The place is a disaster,” said one village resident about the forest. He was among a few residents who advocated for better upkeep of the forest, including the removal of dead trees.
Village Police Chief Russell Beatty Jr. advocated for any measure that will keep major pathways in the forest clear for emergency vehicles.
Council also heard from James Bramer, tree commissioner for the village and forestry supervisor for Mill Creek MetroParks, who recommended that the village hire loggers to remove the trees from targeted areas and sell the lumber.
“We’ve got to put our emotions aside. ... We’ve got to look at what’s best for the forest, and what’s best for the patrons who visit it,” he said. “I hate to cut a tree, but when you’ve got to, you’ve got to.”
Other individuals urged council to leave the forest in its natural state.
Lauren Schroeder, a professor emeritus of evolution and ecology at Youngstown State University, told council that the cost of cutting down trees greatly outweighs the benefit.
“The Poland Forest is a gem in Northeast Ohio,” he said. “The legacy value lies in” keeping it wild.
Council members, however, expressed concerns about safety.
“The woods are for the people, not the bugs. ... I think we’ve got to take action,” council member Joe Mazur said.