Date: Wednesday, December 16, 1998
Source: Diane L. Schirf.
Column: Voice of the people (letter.)
Copyright CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Trees cleanse our air and return oxygen to us. In spring, they come alive, blooming with buds, sometimes flowers, and finally leaves. In autumn, they shower us with the beauty of reds, golds, oranges, yellows. Even in mid-winter, their bark and hollows provide food and shelter for everything from insects to deer.
A tree can be a comfort, always there, always lovely.
Not in Chicago.
Many Chicagoans apparently see one thing and one thing only when they see a tree: A bulletin board. In the flesh of each of the venerable trees outside my building reside 30 or more thumbtacks. Moving sales, lost pets, housecleaning services — all are an excuse to find another use for the tree.
Climb a tree; water a tree; write an ode to a tree. Do not stab a tree and walk away.
POSTSCRIPT: The city that works
A few days after this letter appeared in the Chicago Tribune, I received the response below from Chicago’s Commissioner of Streets and Sanitation. If Mayor Richard M. Daley commends my action, will I vote for him next election? Hmmm . . . I’m so glad I’m not so jaded that I would think that . . .
December 16, 1998
Dear Ms. Schirf:
I saw your letter to the editor in today’s Chicago Tribune concerning the use of trees as bulletin boards.
As the municipal agency that plants and trims Chicago’s parkway trees, the Department of Streets and Sanitation is very aggressive in enforcing the city ordinance against posting signs on them.
Mayor Richard M. Daley several years ago toughened the law against such signs, allowing us to issue tickets against anyone who benefits from these illegal postings. Previously, it had been necessary to actually catch the person who put up the sign, which was nearly impossible.
Although we also enforce a similar law against signs on light poles, our most urgent concern is signs on trees that are nailed or tacked into the bark since this causes actual damage to the tree’s protective covering.
If you ever again see a sign posted on a parkway tree, I urge you to call my office at (312) 744-4611. I will have an inspector sent out to investigate and, if appropriate, write a ticket.
In the meantime, both Mayor Daley and I commend your strong defense of the benefits trees bring to our urban environment. You have our best wishes.
Eileen J. Carey
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