For 17 years the Town of Chesterton has annually earned a Tree City USA
designation, in recognition for the municipal commitment to urban trees.
Trees are nice, trees are pretty, trees are leafy and green. But what
tangible benefits do trees confer to the town?
Quite a few, urban forester Gina Darnell told the Town Council at its
meeting Monday night.
Darnell, reporting on behalf of the Tree Committee, has calculated that, in
point of fact, the 4,789 public trees maintained by the Street Department
accrue an annual $602,000 in “ecosystem benefits.” More: for every $1 spent
on Chesterton’s public trees, the town receives fully $11.25 in benefits.
* The public trees intercept 8 million gallons of stormwater every year.
Calculated benefit: $217,000.
* They store 28 million pounds of carbon, from CO2 sequestration. Calculated
* They provide shade, keeping homes and buildings cooler during the hot
months. Calculated energy savings: $150,000.
Between 2000 and 2012--when the town expanded west, with the development of
the Westwood Manor and Abercrombie Woods subdivisions--fully 900 new public
trees were added to the town’s tree inventory, a whopping increase of 19
percent, Darnell also reported.
At the same time, however, more than 100 trees in the Downtown and Morgan
Park were lost to age, disease, or storm. And very probably all 134 public
ash trees will be lost to the emerald ash borer. At the moment, there
are more than 796 vacant tree planting sites in the Town of Chesterton.
Overall, Darnell gave the town’s public tree program a grade of A- and made
a number of recommendations to improve that grade to an A+:
* At a minimum continue the current level of public-tree funding to the
Street Department. Better yet, increase it.
* Plant 40+ public trees every year to replace the 20 or 30 removed
* Promote the cost-share public tree planting program, under which residents
pay a nominal fee for a tree to be planted on the right-of-way in front of
their homes and agree to water the tree.
* Establish a regular pruning cycle.
* Continue to diversify the species of newly planted trees. Right now 41
percent of all public trees in town are maple.
* Encourage one or more Street Department employees to earn the ISA
certified arborist certification.
In related business, Tree Committee Member Patricia Carlisle invited members
and the public to this year’s edition of Arbor Day, to be celebrated at 10
a.m. Saturday, April 27, at 317 W. Indiana Ave.
And members voted 5-0, as they do every year, to adopt a resolution
declaring the week of April 22-28 Urban Forestry Days in the Town of
Meanwhile, members voted 5-0 to authorize Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias
to proceed with a plan to install signage in the parks and along the Prairie
Duneland Trail with GPS location coordinates.
In case of a medical or other emergency, park users will be able to use the
signage to report their exact location to 911 dispatchers, to ensure a quick
and accurate response.
Mathias said that he hasn’t yet selected the locations for the signage.
Members granted the petition of Dale and Caroline Kaiser of 327 S. 19th St.
and Mark Moldenhauer of 403 S. 19th St. for the vacation of an unimproved
right-of-way between the two properties.
The Kaisers and Moldenhauer will split the parcel down the middle, although
a 30-foot easement will be reserved for a large storm sewer located in the
At a public hearing which preceded the vote, no one spoke in opposition to
the petition. Members voted 5-0 to approve the vacation ordinance on first
reading, 5-0 to suspend the rules, then 5-0 to approve the ordinance on