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COUNCIL SUPPORTS EMERGENCY PLAN FOR TRIMMING TREES

A $2.8 million emergency plan to trim and remove hundreds of dead and dangerous trees won support today from Buffalo lawmakers during a special meeting of the Common Council.

Officials unveiled the plan last week after lawmakers demanded a "tree plan," claiming overgrown and dangerous trees have become the No. 1 complaint they're hearing from city residents.

Under the plan, private contractors will be hired to help Buffalo's forestry crews catch up on a backlog of hundreds of trees that need attention. Once that's done, officials say they hope to hire more city crews to maintain Buffalo's 160,000 trees in parks and along streets.

Vincent J. LoVallo, Mayor Masiello's chief of staff, assured Council members that the city intends to follow through after private contractors eliminate the backlog.

"It took 25 years for this situation to come to this point. We're not going to waste this kind of money . . . This is not going to be a one-shot deal," LoVallo said.

According to city officials, $329,000 of the funds will be available immediately to begin removing dangerous trees and limbs. The rest of the money will be obtained through a $2.5 million bond issue.

Council Majority Leader Rosemarie LoTempio said district Council members should collect a list of trees that need attention and forward it to city public works officials who are administering the emergency program.

Council members, who have been campaigning door to door for re-election, reported last week that residents are listing tree problems as their top complaint.

LoVallo said city officials have been hearing the same complaints and had been preparing the plan to use private contractors because the city forestry staff has not been able to deal with the backlog of trees needing trimming.

The first trees to receive attention will be those threatening homes or posing other hazards, officials said. Later, when the bond funds become available, the remaining trees will be trimmed or removed.

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