Its trees targeted, Niles school looks for new growth
Kim Eggert, a member of the Emerson Middle School PTO, had Art Club students create a drawing of what the school's entrance could look like with more trees. | Courtesy Kim Eggert
Updated: May 20, 2013 2:19AM
When Kim Eggert heard that ash trees at Emerson Middle School in Niles were going to be taken down, she was more than disappointed.
“I was in a state of shock,” said Eggert, of Park Ridge.
The trees are infected with emerald ash borer beetles. So Eggert and other members of the Parent Teacher Organization at Emerson Middle School raised about $5,000 last year and planted a large maple tree, red bud trees and flowering white apple trees at Emerson. They also received a donation from the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was a Magnolia that was started from a seed in China.
Scott Mackall, facilities manager for Park Ridge-Niles Dist. 64, said 15 ash trees located alongside the north end of the soccer field will be removed by the school district. He said it will cost $1,530 to remove the trees and the district will pay for the removal.
“I’m going to work with the PTO to plant some new trees,” said Mackall. “We’ll start replacing the trees right away.”
Mackall said it’s also possible the district will pay for at least some of the trees.
“It’s just a shame,” Mackall said. “All the trees around the building are fine and healthy.”
But Eggert sees the removal as a new opportunity to beautify Emerson’s campus.
“The school was never landscaped properly,” said Eggert, who compared the school to a penitentiary. She said there are no trees along the soccer field, and kids get too hot sometimes when they’re outside.
“I have a vision for this school,” said Eggert. “I want the kids to have a civic responsibility.”
Eggert asked one of the school’s art teachers to have students involved in the art club draw a sketch of what the school would look like if trees were planted at the schools’ entrances.
Eggert said trees are very expensive, with a new maple costing about $1,500. She’s hoping that parents, community members and local businesses will recognize their need for trees, since they’ll be losing a good number of them due to the Emerald ash Borer.
“We want to make each entrance more appealing,” said Eggert.
Eggert is hoping that kids will ask their family members and friends to make a donation in order to be able to plant more trees at Emerson Middle School. She believes it would be great if Emerson graduates come back to the school years later and realize that they helped to improve the school.
Eggert said it was disheartening to find out that some kids had ripped out some smaller trees that PTO members had planted last year.
Tony Dati, superintendent of public works for the Village of Niles, said that last year about 150 to 200 ash trees throughout the village (on public property) were taken down due to the emerald ash borer, and this year about the same number will be removed.
“We’re trying to diversify our tree selection,” said Dati.
Dati said that while other communities are losing thousands of ash trees, Niles is losing fewer, because they have been planting a variety of different types of trees.