Sperry Road Tree Cutting
In February and March of 2019, over 100 trees on a .8 mile stretch of Sperry Road in Chester Township were cut down. Many were healthy old growth trees that sat high above the road and posed no threat to safety or safe passage.
One of them was my unmarked 150-year-old beech tree (right). This beautiful, healthy tree had to be one of the best beech specimens in the area.
Many others were symmetrical stands of pines that formed a barrier between homes and the road.
Removing all of these trees was not a requirement under the law and in my opinion, the justifications provided by township officials for cutting them are questionable at best. One reason - that removal was required by the Ohio Public Works Commission - is simply not true.
Written notification to homeowners said trees would be trimmed and only removed in "certain circumstances." See Notice to read the misleading letter to residents.
The amount paid to cut the trees was $38,000. The agenda from the meeting where payment was authorized lists the amount under consideration as $15,000. Without any public discussion or prior notice to residents, $23,000 got tacked on and the resolution was approved for $38,000. The entire amount was paid for by local funds only.
Township officials said the job wasn't bid because it was under a $50,000 threshold. Thus, only two companies plus the Geauga County engineer's office were considered. One company quoted $3,500 per day for the work; another $2,800 per day. Both are local companies. Trustees went with the company that quoted $3,500 per day. See Authorization to review the documents.
I believe removing these trees in a blanket action was unnecessary and doing so has increased the potential for erosion, and slope and ditch deterioration. Many could have been trimmed for a fraction of the cost.
In the past few weeks I've learned a lot through public records requests and I'm sharing the information because I feel it's in the public interest. Even if residents on the street are happy with the removal, the cost of and process surrounding it merits scrutiny.
Note: After I voiced objections in a letter, township officials did respond, though ultimately nothing changed.