New Trees are coming to Downtown Glen Ellyn

The Village is making a once-in-a-generation investment in the urban forest in Downtown Glen Ellyn. The Downtown Glen Ellyn streetscape and utility improvement project provides an opportunity to replace trees that are in poor condition. As part of the streetscape project, the Village of Glen Ellyn is replacing most existing trees, many of which are in fair/poor condition and have little chance of surviving a large-scale construction project. In addition to replacing many of the 109 trees downtown, between 185 and 225 new trees will be planted, almost doubling the number of trees in Downtown Glen Ellyn.

The new streetscape design will create an ideal tree mix of no more than 10% of any one species of tree to protect against disease and bugs.

The design will use suspended pavement technology to support large tree growth without pushing up the sidewalk and causing tripping hazards. This technology allows for large amounts of soil to be contained in cells underneath the sidewalk. Tree roots will grow in the cells with plenty of soil, water and nutrients.

New trees will be planted several feet further away from the buildings, allowing the sidewalks to be widened and reducing the amount of the tree canopy that will have to be trimmed away from the building.

Each tree’s location will be individually placed to ensure trees don’t conflict with store or car doors.

The newly-planted urban forest in Downtown Glen Ellyn will serve the Village for generations to come and continue Glen Ellyn’s legacy as an award-winning tree city. 


FAQs

Glen Ellyn recognizes that a healthy urban forest will enhance the shopping, dining, and living experience within the downtown Central Business District (CBD). Many of the existing trees in the downtown area are in poor planting conditions that have limited their growth potential and are in declining health. These trees will need to be replaced in the next few years. The upcoming CBD Streetscape and Utility Project will be replacing and upgrading underground utilities as well as making geometric changes to roadways and sidewalks that will impact existing trees. The Village of Glen Ellyn wants to use this opportunity to upgrade growing conditions and plant a more diverse mix of trees that will thrive and be a lasting benefit for future generations of residents. 

Existing trees are growing in poor conditions, and their roots lack adequate access to soil, air and water. These conditions are contributing to their rapid decline. The existing tree species mix also lacks diversity and includes some species that should not be used. New replacement trees can be planted with systems and techniques that provide better access to air, uncompacted planting soil, and water. New trees will be better placed in relation to business entrances, building facades, parking spaces and streetscape geometry. These changes will improve access to businesses and the sidewalk and curb-side space available for public use and placemaking. These advantages cannot be built around existing trees. The new urban forest will also feature a more diverse mix of species that will provide better resilience to disease and invasive pests, add variety to the downtown, and eliminate problematic trees that are weak wooded and prone to limb breakage during storms. 

Yes! Streets like Forest Ave, Glenwood Ave, and Pennsylvania between Main and Forest currently have no trees. These streets currently lack the necessary parkway width to plant trees. A key goal of this project is to reconfigure street geometry to provide more space for sidewalks and trees on those streets.  Other streets will also have similar changes that will allow the Village to increase the number of trees where possible.   

Large healthy trees are a critical component of downtown Glen Ellyn and part of its unique identity. This is why the Village of Glen Ellyn wants plant a healthy, robust urban forest that will last for generations.  New trees will be smaller and need time to grow, but by providing more soil volume and space for growth we will give these new trees the best chance to quickly thrive. Many new trees will be planted in a suspended pavement design that provides access to a large volume of uncompacted soil under the sidewalks. Irrigation systems will be installed in some areas to provide access to water. By providing dramatically improved access to soil, air, and water for the urban forest, the growth rates are expected to be faster than the current conditions. Additionally, larger caliper shade trees will be planted in a few key locations to provide a more substantial tree canopy for the first few years.  

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All construction activities will impact nearby trees. There are methods to limit these impacts such as installing protective fencing and pruning the critical root zone and limbs away from the work zone. These activities cause stress to trees, and this stress is magnified when trees are already in poor growing conditions and exhibiting signs of declining health. Healthy trees in good growing conditions can often survive and recover from the stress of construction, but unhealthy trees in poor growing conditions will see accelerated decline. There is no guarantee that an existing tree will survive after construction is completed. Additionally, since many of the existing trees within the CBD are unhealthy, these trees would need to be replaced in the coming years even if there was no construction. The Village of Glen Ellyn sees an opportunity to plant a new healthy urban forest that will have many advantages and thrive for generations, but that can only be accomplished if the existing deficiencies are addressed now.  

 

Some small trees can be moved, but it is expensive, and these trees typically have low survival rates. The project team has identified some trees in direct conflict with the underground utility improvements to evaluate the possibility of transplanting them. While these trees are small and healthy, their current growing conditions in street tree pits will make transplanting difficult. The team will continue to investigate and evaluate these trees. 

 

The Village has already begun looking for inspiration for alternative holiday decorating. Garland with lights, special lighted banners or figures can be placed on streetlight poles. Spotlights on buildings or trees are another way urban areas make their downtowns festive without wrapping trees in lights. The streetscape project is also investigating festoon lighting, where lights are strung from buildings or poles.  

 

Renderings of what the new trees will look like in 1, 5, and 15 years

Renderings showing new trees in 1, 5, and 15 years

Map of impacted trees

Larger space for tree roots to grow

Schematic of the planned Glen Ellyn sidewalks using suspended pavement technology with space for tree roots to grow.

Downtown holiday lights

Currently, holiday lights are placed in the canopies of existing trees and some are left up year-round. Having lights strung in the trees, especially for long periods of time, is hard on trees. The Village is exploring ways to light up downtown Glen Ellyn in a festive way that does not include wrapping lights in trees.

Villages and cities around the country install beautiful downtown holiday decorations without wrapping trees in lights.

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How to get involved

The Village’s Capital Improvements Commission will meet on a monthly basis to hear presentations from the design team and help move the process forward by making recommendations when required. The CIC meetings are open to the general public; we encourage you to attend to be a part of the conversation.

The CIC meetings kicked-off January 14, 2020 at the Civic Center. At that meeting he committee learned about the opportunity to create a healthy urban forest as a part of the streetscape project. 

The Capital Improvements Commission meets the 2nd Tuesday of the Month at 7:00 PM at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center.