CHICAGO — City leaders are making good on their promise to plant thousands of trees by the end of year, they said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s hallmark Our Roots Chicago program put aside $46 million in city recovery funds so 75,000 trees could be planted over the next five years, with an annual goal of 15,000 trees a year.
But Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th), a frequent Lightfoot critic who is challenging her in this spring’s election, said in October he saw trees piling up, unplanted, in lots near the site of the city’s contractor. A city spokesperson said in October about 10,000 trees had been planted.
City crews now have planted more than 14,000 trees, with expectations to “meet or exceed the mayor’s tree-planting goal,” city spokesperson Amanda Bolton said.
The city’s tree planting contractor, Seven-D Construction at 2000 W. 43rd St., will receive all remaining planting locations this week, Bolton said. All locations for the trees have been selected and inspected, Bolton said.
In October, a city spokesperson said Seven-D had been given 85 percent of locations to plant the remaining trees. Seven-D did not answer requests for comment.
But Lopez criticized the city last month for “wasting taxpayer funds” by not picking places to put the trees earlier.
According to the the Morton Arboretum’s website, fall planting in the Chicago area runs from mid-August through mid-October, with planting in November and December posing “risk of poor root growth and increased failure rate.”
“We are in this predicament because of the lack of planning and foresight,” Lopez said in October. “Site control is key, and we often find ourselves touting projects before we have locations for them.”
Bolton denied trees left in lots is public money wilting away. Seven-D only receives payment for trees once they are planted and verified by the forestry department, Bolton said.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: