By Derrick Blakley

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (CBS) — Arlington Heights is facing an epidemic loss of trees.

It’s the kind of loss that could alter the character of the community, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.

More than 13,000 ash trees on their parkways could be lost to the emerald ash borer. That’s almost one-third of the street-side trees in town.

One subdivision is being hit particularly hard, and residents there are fighting back. Owners in Cedar Glen subdivision were expected to challenge the village’s plans to take down their ash trees.

The village plans to take down 177 ash trees in the subdivision — more than 40 per cent of all trees there — to combat the borer.

“We’re making an assessment that this neighborhood, anyway, is completely infested,” Mike Reynolds, the Arlington Heights superintendent of maintenance.

The evidence: Bark stripped by woodpeckers, which indicates the birds want to eat the ash borers inside. From the outside, many infected trees look just fine.

Neighbors are saying: Not so fast.

Resident Patti Mora says village officials sprayed trees green and announced plans to cut them, without warning.

Home owners want to try to save the trees by inoculating them with pesticide, and they’re willing to pay.

“I’ve got three of these trees on my property alone. If I can save two them, you’re darn tooting I’ll pay for it,” Bill Greaney said.

Village officials are somewhat skeptical.

“Treatments are in the infancy of their acceptance – we’re not 100 percent sure of what’s good, what’s bad,” Reynolds said.

Residents want to give it a shot, anyway.

At a time when all governments are strapped, it all comes down to money. Chemically treating all the ash trees would cost $1.5 million per year.

But the bill for removing and replacing them all would be $13 million.

For now, plans to remove all those Cedar Glen ash trees are on hold until the village board decides what to do.