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Tremont residents concerned over utility company tree trimming

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jul 17, 2018

Some residents living in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood aren't too happy with on-going tree trimming that just started along Professor Avenue, and other near-by streets.

The tree pruning is being done by contractors hired by FirstEnergy to help prevent future tree-related power outrages.

Tremont resident Sandy Smith pointed to trees she believes were overly trimmed, and sustained damage that could threaten their health, and has hurt their neighborhood appearance.

Smith said utility companies need to take more care in who they hire to trim trees and have specific protocol in place to ensure trees aren't to aggressively pruned.

"I'm really upset about it, I mean Cleveland is supposed to be a city of trees," Smith said.

"FirstEnergy contractors, utility company contractors, go through and just lop off the tops of trees, like the tree in front of my house. Or they cut huge "V's" into them."

"Utilities should put that information right in the contract, and it should state exactly what they want, and need from a tree contractor.  And then I think they need to have their personnel follow-up."

Tremont General Store owner Kevin Kubovcik told News 5 residents should have more input when utility companies decide they're going to start pruning neighborhood trees.

"I would have liked to have been notified, so if we have questions, we could have our questions answered," Kubovcik said.

"I believe they should hire true arborists, certified people who know what they're doing."

News 5 contacted FirstEnergy headquarters about the tree trimming concerns, and it responded immediately.

The company said it takes care of who is hired for tree trimming, and issued the following statement in response to our story:

Trees are a leading cause of power outages, and our tree trimming program aims to keep electrical equipment free of vegetation.

The work we do helps reduce the frequency and duration of power outages, especially those associated with severe weather.

The tree care professionals we employ use “directional” pruning techniques, which helps to direct future tree growth away from power lines and minimize regrowth.

Branches growing away from electric lines or other equipment are usually left undisturbed. Directionally pruned trees may look odd at first. In the long run, they are less susceptible to pest and decay problems and less likely to drop branches and cause damage during storms. In fact, compared to other methods, such as topping, directional pruning is better for the protection of the tree’s health. 

Nearly $18 million will be spent this year on tree trimming and other vegetation management work along approximately 2,100 miles of distribution and transmission lines in The Illuminating Company service area this year.

Still, Smith is hoping more care is taken as additional Tremont trees are trimmed throughout this summer.

"Please be careful with our trees, they are part of the gems of our neighborhood," Smith said.

More information about FirstEnergy’s tree trimming program is available at