Wicker Park, Bucktown plant ‘greener’ neighorhoods


James Tsitiridis

Wicker Park, Bucktown plant ‘greener’ neighorhoods

By Taylor Morris

In an effort to replace trees killed by a beetle infestation, 86 new ones were planted in Bucktown and Wicker Park, according to a Nov. 3 press release from The Silverman Group Inc., a Chicago public relations firm. 

The trees, which cost $100,000, were planted with funding from the Wicker Park Bucktown Special Service Area #33 and a taxpayer-funded commission, according to the press release.

Steven Jensen, a lifelong Bucktown  resident and president of the neighborhood’s community organization, said Emerald Ash Borer disease killed most of the trees in the area. The damage  is caused by a green jewel beetle burrowing its way through trees horizontally and cutting the flow of nutrients to the top of the tree, which eventually kills the tree. Planting the new trees will benefit the environment and local community, he said. 

“Every tree that’s planted in our community is going to be around for 80 years, and it provides nothing but value,” he said. “There’s nothing to be gained out of these trees except positive things.”

Jensen added that the trees will make Chicago a greener city, as well as help the urban landscape. 

“When you lose a lot of tree cover, and you expose a lot of rooftops and a lot of pavement and asphalt and concrete, the heat tends to rise. So more shade [results in] a greener city,” he explained.

The planting costs include removing of old tree stumps, purchasing new trees, and labor and permit costs, according to the press release.

The trees provide environmental services worth $120,000 such as reducing stormwater runoff, providing summer cooling as well as lowering urban heat effect, improving air quality, and conserving energy, according to the press release.

Jessica Wobbekind, Wicker Park Bucktown Special Services Area #33 program manager, said the trees give a nice boulevard-like look to the neighborhood.

“They provide environmental benefits,” she said. “They reduce stress, and it’s something that’s really important to our commission and also our community.”

Wobbekind also said Wicker Park and Bucktown residents have supported the tree plantation project and the Bucktown Community Organization.

Tree types planted include Kentucky Coffee, Little Leaf Linden, Hackberry, Black Locust, Chanticleer Pear and Honey Locust, the press release stated.

Brent Norsman, owner of Norsman Architects, Ltd. and volunteer chair of the Wicker Park Bucktown SSA #33, explained that SSA values the urban forest and said the tree project is a long-term investment. 

“We plan on committing to planting more trees in the future,” he said. “I personally would like to see far more than we’re planting this year.”

Planting the trees is the largest WPB SSA #33 project since 2013, when 41 tress were planted, according to the press release.

“We are really excited about this project,” Wobbekind said. “It’s the biggest tree planting we’ve done, and our goal is to continue planting trees in the coming years.”