Year long backlog: City trees awaiting removal causing property damage

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - A Lincoln teen’s car is totaled and his family is still sweeping branches out of their yard.

“The company told us instantly there’s nothing they could do to save the car,” Karen Loll said.

To blame for the mess is a city-owned tree that fell during Friday night’s storm.

10/11 Now learned that tree has been slated to be removed since June 2020.

“Last June a large branch fell on top of my car and at that point I called the city,” Loll said. “Then a week later another branch fell smack dab in the middle of the yard.”

As of this week, the tree has caused nearly $20,000 in damage to Loll’s property while waiting to be removed by the city.

10/11 NOW reached out to the Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department which said they’re about a year behind in tree removals after six storms between June and October of 2020 caused significant tree damage.

“Our community Forestry crews essentially spent about five months last year addressing storm damage to street trees,” Lynn Johnson told 10/11 NOW in an email. “Very little routine work was accomplished during this period of time.”

Loll is not the only one waiting. Jana Biskup, who also lives in Northeast Lincoln is on the list.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and now it’s been about 13 months,” Biskup said.

The tree by her home first dropped a limb in June of 2020. It missed her husband’s truck by a few inches.

The city told her the tree was dead and it would probably be about three months until they could remove it.

“It’s frustrating,” Biskup said.” Because our storms can be pretty bad in the summer and in the winter. I’m afraid we’ll get another ice storm and they’ll be damage.”

Both women said they understand the back-log. Johnson said the city removed more than 2,100 trees which is about 500 more than normal.

“I know the city knows they’re behind,” Loll said. “I know they’re not just waiting for there to be property damage. I know they’re working on it.”

But it is costing people money. Chris Connolly, Lincoln City Attorney said the city doesn’t always pay when it’s a city-owned tree causing damage. He said it depends on whether or not the city knew the tree was dangerous, why the limb fell from the tree and why the tree was on the list for removal.

Biskup is hoping her tree will be removed before she has to file a claim.

“I feel bad but it’s been over a year,” Biskup said. “That’s getting unacceptable.

Tomorrow, 10/11 NOW will sit down with Parks and Recreation Director Lynn Johnson to discuss how big of an issue this is and how long it could take to catch up.

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