Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Reilly tries to defend city policy of not picking up tree debris


The following is an email from Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly on July 3rd to the members of the Common Council trying to explain the decision to only pick up debris from the city trees that were damaged in a storm on June 30th. Debris from trees not owned by the city will not be picked up.

Dear Aldermen;

Since the storm on Monday night, the Forestry and the Public Work’s crews have been working hard to clean up street tree debris.  I assume many of you have had calls from your constituents asking whether the city will be helping with tree removal from private property or whether there will be a city wide brush pick up.  I am sending you this email so you all have the same information I have and you also have know what the city is doing regarding the damage caused by this storm.

I have had a number of conversations and met with both Peter Traczek and Dr. Fred Abadi regarding the clean up.   Peter’s (from the Forestry Department) opinion is that this storm created more tree damage than any other storm for at least the last 13 years (that is how long Peter has worked for the city).   My impression is that the only times I saw more damage was during the May snow storm in 1992 (?) and an ice storm when I was still in my teens.

Since the storm, there have been 5 crews (a total of 17 city employees) working on clearing the streets and sidewalks.  The Forestry Department had its 3 crews (with 3 men in each crew) working 12 hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Forestry Department also had its crews out working on the tree damage immediately after the storm and worked until 2:00 am that night.  That work was done in the dark and in pouring rain.

The first responsibility of the city is the safety of the public.  After this storm, many street trees and private trees had broken branches hanging over streets or sidewalks.  Those hanging branches, which are a significant safety hazard, need to be removed.  The bulk of the dangerous material that was overhanging streets or sidewalks is now safely on the ground.  It is also the city’s responsibility to clear the streets and the sidewalks, focusing first on major roads.  I think you are all aware of the number of trees that are or were laying in the sidewalk area and/or in the street. Many of the downed trees that were impeding traffic have now been removed.  There is still significant work that needs to be done however.  The most damage was in District 1 and 3.  The City has been concentrating its clean up in those two Districts and will need to continue concentrating in this area most of next week.  After Districts 1 and 3 have been taken care of, the crews will be moving on to other areas of the City.  This is expected to take an additional week and possibly 2 weeks.

Since the city’s responsibility of taking care of street trees and clearing the sidewalks and streets is unlikely to be completed for another 2 or 3 weeks, no brush pick up is presently being scheduled.  We have tried to provide some relief to residents by increasing the hours at the drop off site and not charging a fee for disposing of brush.  Below is a copy of an email that provides additional information regarding the ability to dispose of tree branches at the drop off center.
ald 1 and 3
If you receive calls from residents, please explain why the city is not able to pick up their brush at this time.  I understand that many citizens do not have the necessary equipment to load and bring tree debris to the drop off center.  I also understand that people are frustrated and want the city to pick up their tree debris.  I am of the opinion however that we need to first have our Forestry Department and Public Works crews complete the removal of the down or damaged street trees so as to provide safe streets and sidewalks.

Ed Henschel and I will have a management review of the clean up status early next week and we will provide you with an update on the clean up progress.



Shawn N. Reilly, Mayor

City of Waukesha
City Hall
201 Delafield Street
Waukesha, WI 53188
alderman map

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