City of Lawton to decide how to remove dead trees in Jan. - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

City of Lawton to decide how to remove dead trees in Jan.

LAWTON Okla_ The price tag to remove around 300 dead trees lining the streets of older Lawton neighborhoods is hefty.

The trees of concern are in the city's easement, and last month city council members agreed to remove them. With estimated removal costs totaling around $150,000, some members of the "Dead Tree Committee" have suggested property owners foot the bill.

Some committee members want the money to come from the city's emergency fund, while others have suggested the property owner pay the bill. It could even mean placing a lien on your property, even though it's planted in the city's easement.

Lawton City Council member and Dead Tree Committee member Jay Burk said the city's price tag for the removal of the trees ranges anywhere from $300-$700 each. He said that's a steal of a price compared to what a homeowner would normally pay.

"The only reason the city is able to make these kind of arrangements is because they are offering to do so many," Burk said. "Each individual homeowner who has just one tree is not going to get that rate."

He said "bargain price" or not, some property owners just can't afford to pay it.

"I know for some people $700 isn't much," Burk said. "But for some, it's a real hardship and some people live check to check. So, asking them to come up with $700 is a burden on their family. It's the difference from buying food or taking down a tree. I know what my priority would be."

Burk said another option is paying the note via a city emergency fund- something he supports.

"It's much cheaper in my opinion," Burk said. "It's cheaper to take them out at $170,000, then to take a life of an innocent bystander that's parked there or walking by when a high wind could topple one of these trees."

Whatever the decision, Burk said it must be made soon.

"We've had two trees fall recently one in our library parking lot," Burk said. "One also fell here in Old Town North and fell and damaged a vehicle. It wasn't high winds. We haven't had an ice storm or high winds this season yet, and my fear is it's coming. We live in Oklahoma, so you never know."

Burk said the final decision on how the trees will be removed hasn't been made yet, and that council members will continue the discussion in january's first city council meeting.

Burk said anyone is welcome to attend that council meeting to hear or share their ideas.

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