CHAMPAIGN — The city of Champaign has reversed its earlier stance about not picking up tree debris that fell on private property as a result of Thursday's storm, and said it will begin picking it up Monday.
"Although previously reported that the city would only remove debris from city-owned trees, due to the severity of the storm, the city is making an exception to policy in this instance in an effort to assist residents with clean-up activities," the public works department said in a release issued Friday afternoon.
The crews will pick up tree limbs and brush placed at the curb but will not go on private property to get it. Residents are asked to separate bagged from stacked items since they are sent to two different disposal locations. They ask that residents stack limbs and brush at the curb with the cut end facing the street. They are limiting the pick up to debris from Thursday's storm only.
Staff will patrol the area most severely affected by the storm — north of Windsor Road, south of Springfield Avenue, west of Prospect Avenue and east of Duncan Road.
Residents in that area do not have to call to request pick up but people who live outside of these boundaries are asked to contact public works at 403-4700 beginning Monday to request pick up.
"As crews have gotten the chance to evaluate the extent of the damage from (Thursday's) storm, it has become evident that many private trees also incurred damage," said Dennis Schmidt, Public Works Director. "By including debris from private trees, the city is able to help residents clean up their property from the effects of the storm."
Schmidt said the clean-up will continue through next week.
Meantime, Prairie Farm in Champaign closed about 3 p.m. Friday so that Champaign Park District employees could continue to clean up debris from Thursday's storm.
"We've got big tree limbs hanging," said park district spokeswoman Laura Auteberry.
"This is our last weekend to be open. The staff is going to get out there early Saturday morning (to finish). The animals are safe and we should be able to open as scheduled at 1 p.m. (Saturday)," she said.
Auteberry said Prairie Farm and the nearby Centennial Park, south of Kirby Avenue, were both hit hard during a brief storm that blew through that part of Champaign around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
"We had some pretty significant damage in Centennial Park. We lost about 15 to 18 trees. A lot of them were white pines on the north side of Dexter Field," she said, adding that there was no damage to the fields or fences.