I-TEAM: Cleveland residents waiting 23 years for city work crews to trim trees?

CLEVELAND -- The Fox 8 I-TEAM has found you might have to wait decades for city of Cleveland crews to trim trees on your block. An internal e-mail exchange shows the city is on a “23 year cycle.”

When you drive down some city streets, you might plow through tree branches hanging down over the roadway.

Councilman Brian Kazy tried to get city crews out to West 125th Street and a manager with the Urban Forestry Department wrote, “We are on a 23 year trimming cycle.”

In fact, the city told the councilman, that crews are not even working in his ward at all this entire year.

Kazy said, “We just learned of the 23 year cycle, and I haven't gotten an explanation on it."

Last year the I-TEAM revealed the city has been incredibly far behind on cutting dead and dangerous trees. As of last year, the backlog was more than 5,000 trees.

Some of them ended up falling and causing damage.

The city promised to hire more crews to cut trees and hire more help from outside companies to catch up.

But Councilman Kazy has lost patience. He said, "So now we need to start seeing some results. It’s almost like the hamster on the wheel. They keep spinning, and spinning, and spinning, and they're not going anywhere."

The city's Urban Forestry Department told the councilman, if trees need “priority” trimming, it could still take up to a year before the work is done depending on the level of priority.

The I-TEAM went to City Hall and City Spokesman Dan Williams defended the tree crews, but he also couldn’t explain the 23-year cycle.

Williams said, “Well, difference between emergencies and priorities. Emergencies, we will take care of within ten days. There's a lot of trees in the city. We want more trees. In fact, we want a whole lot more trees."

But back in the area of West 125th, can the city even keep up with the trees it has now?

We found Bob Bailey trimming trees in his yard. His reacted to the 23-year cycle saying, “Makes no sense.”City Hall added,

“Our crews have a goal of pruning 425-430 per month which we are meeting.”

And, “The City has 21 Arborists (8 to 9 crews) who are working daily, Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”

Nonetheless, on Monday, Councilman Kazy plans to try to get an explanation at a council committee hearing. There, he expects to ask direct questions of the city official who oversees this.

Continuing coverage, here.