Lakeshore News Tonight

Enbridge, Griffith Work on Plan That Leaves Trees

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October 23, 2013  — Jim Hennes might be getting an answer to the question he has been asking for the past three weeks. 

The Griffith resident wants to put a stop to the obliteration of Century-old oak savannah trees in South Park, so he has been pleading with town leaders and Enbridge officials.

“We have all of this special wildlife here.  You see a lot of it disappearing,” said Hennes.

The trees were slated to come down after the town granted easement rights to Enbridge for a new crude oil pipeline project called 6B, a route that goes from Griffith through Michigan to Canada.

Hennes, an engineer and major project manager, shared plans with the company that he believed would save the Oak Savannah trees from the chopping block.  He also complained to Griffith Town Councilman Rick Ryfa and his colleagues.  Ryfa said Hennes is not alone in wanting to preserve the trees and decrease possible contamination risks.

“It’s a very nice neighborhood that butts up to the park, and it’s just an area that we want to see preserved.”

Most of South Park will be preserved.  Ryfa and other council members met with Enbridge this week after drafting a letter to save more trees.

“They have presented some preliminary drawings that show a proposed route that will save almost all of the trees that were going to be taken down before.  I don’t have an exact count, but I believe they have to stake it out.  There might be approximately five or six trees that, we’re being told, have to be taken down now,” said Ryfa.

The handful of trees set for destruction is a far cry from the nearly 20 trees Enbridge planned to cut initially.  Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith stated the company working with the Town of Griffith.

“Enbridge has been investigating a route change that would save a majority of the trees originally planned to be cleared. It looks as though the alternate route will work.”

Ryfa said some residents have been inconvenienced, such as those participating in youth sporting events that were rescheduled to another location.  He thanks them for their patience and looks forward to the finished product.

Ryfa said of the work Enbridge must complete, “They are working through easements, right of ways and a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes that most people aren’t aware of in order for them to be able to take their route through there.  I know some environmental work needs to be done.  Once that’s finished, they will present us with some drawings that we can in turn present to the residents.”

Smith says the engineering and land group still need to finalize details.

By Renetta DuBose

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