City moves forward with tree removal program

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Without knowing the full cost, the Newton City Commission approved moving forward with the next step of the City Beautification Strategic Plan In December of 2020 — a tree trimming program first discussed in January of 2019.

City of Newton, Kansas.

"Of all of our environmental calls to our environmental control officer, the greatest number of calls and complaints we receive are based on the tree trimming violation notices," said Suzanne Loomis, director of public works. 

The program splits the city into four areas for tree trimming in city rights of way — raising the crown to the required 15 feet above the street. 

This week, the city was able to look at bids from two Wichita companies for next year — approving a base bid for $28,000, with alternates for additional tree removal as needed.

This was the second time the city solicited bids — the first attempt was unsuccessful in finding any takers. Staff talked to several of the vendors who stated they did not bid because they were busy at the time, some out of state.

"I am quite excited by the bids we have received. This has been quite a point of contention with our residents and I am very happy we can get started with this," Loomis said. 

The city had budgeted about $40,000 for the project this year. 

The low bidder was Alfred's Superior Tree Service  of Wichita. The company anticipates starting work shortly with completion within the next month. 

The city may call the service back for some work outside of maintenance area if needed later this year. 

City code requires tree limbs to be 9 feet above the sidewalk and 15 feet above the crown of the street, or the top of the curb. The code is in place so that trees along streets do not interfere with the operation of traffic, including the ability of city sanitation trucks and street maintenance equipment. Trash trucks can hit low-hanging limbs when driving along residential routes, and when the automatic lift picks up and dumps the poly-carts, broken limbs can fall on nearby vehicles or block neighborhood streets. Equipment used for doing slurry seal and overlay for street repair and maintenance work can be damaged when they hit large, low-hanging limbs.

In other business the commission:

• Discussed recycling, the cost of the now voluntary program and where people can turn to for questions. Those who have questions should call the sanitation department at 316-284-6070

• Approved participation in the Federal Fund Exchange program. Newton will receive $234,460 for use by the street department under the program.  

• Approved changes to an ordinance for the location of the fire department connections