Until now, no one in the city has had anything good to say about the emerald ash borer infestation.
The Japanese beetle, named for its color and diet, invaded Michigan in 2002. In Ann Arbor alone, it has killed 22,000 ash trees, including 10,000 along streets and in parks that the city had to remove. When voters turned down a millage to pay for the $6.6 million logging operation, city council tapped the risk fund, the parks rehabilitation and development millage, and the expired park repair and restoration millage. “Because of the sheer number of ash tree removals, trees were removed using a combination of staff and contractors,” says Colin Smith, city parks and recreation service manager. And that’s where, finally, there’s been some good news: “The contractors’ bids came in much lower than was anticipated,” Smith says. The project ended up costing $5.9 million–$683,000 less than budgeted.
The $683,000 was returned to the expired parks rehabilitation and development millage fund, but it didn’t stay there long. According to Smith, “the funds will be used to pay for a significant portion of the construction of the Argo bypass channel”–the state-mandated replacement for the failing headrace embankment below Argo Dam. The ash borer rebate should cover more than half that project’s total cost of $1.168 million.