LEMONT – Kathy and Frank Demari have chosen a public way to express their frustration that the Village of Lemont Public Works Department removed a Bradford Pear tree from the parkway in front of the their house.
The couple that lives on Wheeler Drive has put up a large sign accusing the public works department of unnecessarily cutting down a healthy tree.
"Public works cut down our beautiful, vibrant tree for no reason," the sign reads. "They informed us afterward that 'We can do whatever we want, and there is nothing you can do about it.' Public works cut the tree. Now, they can cut the grass, too."
The tree was cut down on May 21 after a storm the previous night.
Lemont Public Works Director Ralph Pukula said public works employees had determined the tree was split in half by the wind storm and needed to be removed because it was a safety hazard.
He said there was nothing unusual about the removal of the tree. The tree belongs to the village because it was planted in the parkway, and the village would have been liable for any injury or damages caused by the tree.
Kathy Demari said that the only damage her husband had seen was a branch that had fallen off.
"If that tree was unsafe or posed a danger to the community, we're all for having it cut down," she said, adding that she was "shocked" when she came home from work that day and found the whole tree gone.
She said that part of the reason they are upset is that they had planted the tree themselves as part of a village occupancy requirement when building the house.
Kathy said both she and her husband called up public works looking for an explanation.
She said her husband's conversation with the department became heated, which is when a public works employee supposedly said that it was the village's property and they could do what they want.
Kathy said she knows it is their word against the village's, but wishes the public works department had communicated with them better about their decision process.
Pukula said the public works employees tried to talk to the Demaris before they cut down the tree.
"We knocked on the door," he said. "No one was home. We couldn't wait until someone was home. It was a safety hazard."
Kathy said her husband wishes the workers had taken a picture of the damage to the tree.
For the time being, the Demaris are following through on their threat to not cut the grass in the parkway.
"When they show me the ordinance that I have to maintain the grass, I will maintain the grass," Kathy said.