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Akron, Ohio

Akron's Oldest Ash Tree To Come Down

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City of Akron Press Release
Published: 11-10-2015

Elmdale/W Exchange Ash Tree Has Emerald Ash Borer

Tree must be removed for safety

            Akron, Ohio (November 10, 2015) -– The large White Ash located on the southwest corner of Elmdale Avenue and West Exchange Street is scheduled to be removed on Thursday, November 12, 2015 for safety reasons.  The tree has suffered significant damage created by the Emerald Ash Borer. 

In 2002, the tree was scheduled to be removed for the installation of a new curb ramp.  The outcry from concerned residents resulted in the tree being saved, and alternative methods being used to construct the curb ramp.  Since then, the City has performed annual inspections of the tree and remediated any hazards or defects as they appeared. 

The infestation began with the insect coming into Michigan in pallets from China. The Ohio Department of Agriculture reports that it was first detected in Ohio near Toledo in 2003, then moving into nearly all other parts of the state including our area. Because the Emerald Ash Borer is now established throughout most of the state there are no longer quarantine regulations in place within Ohio, although they still recommend caution when moving firewood. Ohio has a reported 3.8 billion ash trees.

In 2012, the first signs of the Emerald Ash Borer were detected in the upper canopy of the Elmdale ash tree. Jon Malish, a Landscape Technician with the City, has watched the progression of this insect as it has spread throughout the City.  “The borer is devastating our Ash trees.  They tunnel galleries just under the bark and cut off the supply routes for water and nutrients to flow from the roots to the leaves.  When this happens, the tree begins to die,” Jon Malish said.

This has happened to tens of thousands of White Ash trees in Ohio, including over 500 White Ash trees in Akron rights-of-way alone.  Unfortunately, the White Ash on Elmdale has met the same fate.

The City’s Director of Public Service, John Moore, said “The safety of pedestrians, residents, and the traveling public are our primary concern.  The tree could come down during a storm, during heavy wind, or under its own weight or the weight of snow. The tree has dead limbs as thick as 24 inches hanging over West Exchange. No one in Akron wants to see this beautiful old tree taken down, but as it stands today, the tree poses a serious risk to the public.  We have no choice.”

But, while the tree may be ending its watch on the corner of Elmdale and West Exchange, it will live on through the collaboration between the City and local artists.  When informed that the tree had to be removed, Mayor Fusco came up with the idea to use the City’s Summer Arts Experience program to create a lasting tribute to the tree.  

“After the experts concluded that the tree had to come down, I decided we had to find a way to preserve and celebrate its history” said Mayor Jeff Fusco.  “Through the Summer Arts Experience, a local artist, with the help of Akron youth, will create an historical timeline of Akron by using the growth rings from the cross sections of the tree trunk.” 

  Jon Malish estimates that the tree is 125-150 years old and an extraordinary 60+ inches in diameter at its base.  “When you think about the historical events that occurred during the lifetime of this tree, it is truly remarkable.  We need to celebrate and respect this natural historical wonder, as we safely remove it from the neighborhood.”

The City’s hope is that these art installations will be displayed at various locations throughout the City.  The City will also be preserving the stump for possible use as a “permanent chair” or bench for pedestrians.  During removal, the tree will be cut into log-length sections and preserved and stored for future use in these types of projects. 

“I also invite and encourage any Akron citizens wanting to make creative use of this tree to submit proposals for other uses of the logs as carvings, benches, or other art.”  Mayor Fusco said.  The City would be willing to collaborate with residents in seeking out funding sources for projects.  

The owners of the abutting property at 1492 W. Exchange recently submitted a proposal for funding to the Knight Arts Challenge for a potential project involving the tree and are awaiting a decision. "Regrettably, we are losing this beautiful tree which has watched over many generations of Akronites, but have been impressed with Mayor Fusco's ingenuity and cooperation to preserve its memory for our community," stated homeowner Megan Moreland. "My family and I look forward to playing a role in the development of the artwork that will tell the story of our dear ash and welcome our neighbors into the process so its passing will be given purpose."
  The City will close Elmdale Avenue from Malden Street to West Exchange Street.  Detour signs will be posted.  The detour route will be west on West Exchange, south on South Hawkins to Mull Circle.  For more information, please contact Jon Malish, Landscape Technician III for the City of Akron, at [email protected] or call 330-375-2731.

 

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