CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A Cleveland city councilman told Cleveland 19 that the city has a list of more than 7,000 trees that need to be removed. Some of those trees have been on that list, he said, for more than a year and a half.
Cleveland 19 filed a public records request for the list of trees that need to be removed. The city's list put that number at 5,223 trees that need to be removed.
One of those trees was on the tree lawn in front of Janice Fitch's home. She told Cleveland 19 she had contacted the city about the tree and was told it would be removed. It fell on her home Thursday night.
The tree was on the tree lawn, meaning it was the city of Cleveland's property. Fitch's city councilman, Brain Kazy, told Cleveland 19 that Fitch had just contacted his office on Thursday about the tree.
He said the tree that fell on Fitch's home had been on the list for a year, and he knows of another tree in his district that has been on the list for 19 months.
"She contacted my office yesterday which is when I found out it was on the [city's] removal list because we researched the case number that was there. Unfortunately it fell before I could get that push to urban forestry to get it out of here," said Kazy.
Kazy said that the city has thousands of trees 'that are dead' on a list to be removed and that "urban forestry's behind."
The city of Cleveland's website stated that the goal of the Urban Forestry department is to, "provide a safe urban forest while striving to preserve its natural beauty. This office's activities include the maintenance of all public street and park trees, including the removal of dead and hazardous street trees and overgrown roots which raise sidewalks, planting of replacement trees (based on availability of funding), trimming, and providing public information."
City ordinances also state that it is the property owner's responsibility, in this case the city, to trim or remove trees, and if they don't, the owner can be charged for the tree's maintenance and/or a municipal court lawsuit.
In the case of the tree that fell on Fitch's home, Kazy told Cleveland 19, "there's going to be issues that we're going to have to deal with through moral claims right now. We're currently in the process of getting it cleaned up. We have to work with her insurance company in order to figure out how much it's going to cost, in the meantime we're going to do everything to make her life as easy and smooth as possible moving forward."
Cleveland 19 also reached out to the city to see what Cleveland plans to do about the situation.
City spokesperson Dan Williams told Cleveland 19 in an email statement:
"The City has provided a claims form to the family at 3317 West 129th Street and will assist them in the claims process. In addition, we had a crew go to the residents today and remove the tree from the house. As a part of our enhanced budget this year the City is adding two additional crews for the trimming of trees and will contract to increase the removal of hundreds damaged trees this year," Wiliams said.
Cleveland 19 asked for clarification on if Fitch will have to go through her insurance and then potentially be reimbursed by the city, and Williams said that he was "not sure on the details," but that the city will "work with the family on the process."