Plan to take care of tornado-damaged trees

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Trees that died as a result of damage from the June 1, 2011 tornado may finally get cleaned up, thanks to a plan announced by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno and other city officials Tuesday.

Sarno announced $100,000 of taxpayer money from the city’s general fund will be used to remove dead trees on tornado-hit properties across the city.

One of the homeowners who has a dead tree on her property is Julie Andruszkiewicz, who says that its presence brings back painful memories.

“It’s a solid reminder. Every time we step in the backyard, it brings it back,” Andruszkiewicz said.

While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helped remove these trees in other parts of Springfield, the hard-hit East Forest Park neighborhood didn’t receive needed funding, according to Springfield Director of Finance T.J. Plante.

“We looked to FEMA first, they denied us five times. We looked to Housing and Urban Development, HUD, as a way to meet an unmet need and they said ‘no.’ And it became incumbent for us as a city to do the right thing,” Plante said.

Many of Springfield’s tornado-damaged homes have been rebuilt, but in many cases there’s still a step to go, and that’s to get rid of all the dead trees. Once that happens, many residents believe that will be the last step in their recovery

For Michele David who lives on Kipling Street in East Forest Park, her homeowner’s insurance ran out before she could pay to remove a tornado-damaged tree.

“If you look around the neighborhood, you’ll see this isn’t the only tree. The only stark reminder of June first. Yes, I think it’ll be a great boost for our neighborhood,” David said.

Springfield’s City Council still has sign off on this project for the money to be allocated. Applicants must live in the city’s East Forest Park neighborhood to be eligible.

Individuals who want their trees removed have 60 days to apply. Here is the process:

  • Applications previously collected will be honored and field technicians will schedule a field visit with homeowners. Right of Entry work will be capped at $2,500 per household. Trees need to be considered a hazard to houses and a hazard in future storm damage.
  • Applications can be obtained from the city website or by calling 311 from a landline or (413) 736-3111 from a cell phone or from outside the city.
  • Residents will provide proof of ownership, current copy of deed and insurance policy in affect at the time of the tornado.
  • Upon receipt, Applications will be reviewed within 30 days and field visits will be coordinated with the homeowner.
  • Residents will be scheduled for removals during August and September. Homeowners will have the responsibility to provide access to the site; i.e.: remove fences and obstructions for access.

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