Home Haddonfield News Public Works Department begins three-month TREE program

Public Works Department begins three-month TREE program

Effort aims to remove 150 trees between February and April

Early on a recent Monday morning, amidst drizzling rain, eight men from the Haddonfield Public Works Department set out with two tree trucks to begin operation Dead T.R.E.E. (Tree Rapid Execution Event), a three-month project to remove 150 dead and dying trees along municipal roads. 

Through April 30, there will be two, four-man tree crews: the T.R.E.E. Warriors and T.R.E.E. Team Six. The Warriors will target larger trees near electric lines, and Team Six will target smaller trees not near wires in residential areas. 

In the next few months, the teams will be focused on removing smaller trees and stalking bigger ones, which means cutting off their branches and leaving a “stalk” behind that can later be removed by outside contractors.

The teams are made up of existing tree-crew members and employees in the Public Works’ Street division who have tree experience. Because eight of the 10 Public Works staff are involved with tree removal, chipping services will be on hold until April, when tree crews will go down to one four-man team to allow for spring cleanup.

Every day from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. the teams will stalk trees and work along the chosen trash route throughout the day. Weekly social media posts will report whether each team achieved its goal, surpassed it or missed it.

In the past 10 years, Haddonfield’s ash trees were infected by leaf scorch, and the prevalent insect, Ash Emerald Borer, infects and kills ash trees and leaves them brittle enough to fall apart. Oaks, pine oaks and elm trees were also affected. 

Tree cleanups were previously handled by one, two-man crew that could take down 100 to 200 trees in a year, and outside contractors who would take down about 100. 

The influx of dying trees combined with recent powerful storms and the exorbitant prices of contractors has caused Haddonfield to fall behind in recent years, according to Borough Administrator Sharon McCullough. 

“We got hit with some pretty significant storms in ‘19 and ‘20, and our tree crews were busy for so many months in cleanup mode from the problems from those storms, we started to fall even further behind,” she said. 

McCullough also noted that the borough did not hire any outside contractors in 2021 to help with tree removal because prices were so high. To solve the problem, Commissioner Frank Troy proposed the Tree Rapid Execution Event (T.R.E.E.).

“What we’ve found with businesses over time is that sometimes, if you have a problem at work or as part of a manufacturing process, or part of a sales process, the best way to resolve it is with a dedicated focus, with a dedicated team, a limited scope and a limited duration,” Troy explained.

“This is a period of time where we’re going to resolve this problem,” he added. “We’re going to ask the experts for the best way to do it.”

The teams will work off a list compiled by the two most experienced tree cutters along the trash routes, but residents can share their tree concerns on the borough website at https://main.govpilot.com/web/public/bfe69664-845.html?id=0&uid=7072&pu=1&ust=NJ


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