Problem Solver: Tree removal gets thorny

Villa Park resident says company never finished removing century-old maple

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The roof on Tom Gorski's garage had rotted through, and the Villa Park resident knew it was time for a new one.

A major impediment stood in the way.

Towering above his backyard, a century-old maple stood about a foot from the garage.

In the spring, Gorski decided it was time for the tree to go.

The way he viewed it, cutting down the tree would help contractors gain access to the garage, and also would put the aging maple out of its misery.

Call it arboreal euthanasia.

After asking friends and relatives for suggestions, Gorski called Cutting Edge Tree Service and Landscape of Elmhurst, owned by Tom Harder.

"The guy was recommended by my wife's cousin," Gorski said. "We went with him."

On April 19, Harder arrived to assess the situation. "He said 'I'll do it the next day,'" Gorski said.

True to his word, Harder returned April 20. He asked for $2,000 — half in cash, half in a check — which Gorski thought was reasonable. Gorski said his wife paid Harder upfront, and Harder got to work cutting down the old tree.

Well, most of it anyway.

After cutting the maple down to about 6 feet, Harder said his chain saw was too small to cut the rest, Gorski said.

"It seemed like a legitimate excuse," Gorski said. "He said he had a bigger saw but it was broken. He said he'd be back the next week."

Weeks passed and the 6-foot stump remained.

"Every time I called him, he had an excuse," Gorski said. "He was sick, then we had the storm and he used the storm damage as an excuse."

As time passed Gorski grew frustrated. Over the summer, he filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

"He was not happy about that," Gorski said. "He called me every swear word in the book."

The BBB eventually closed the complaint without resolution, and gives Cutting Edge Tree Service and Landscape its lowest grade, an F.

Gorski said he tried calling Harder over the summer and into the fall, but Harder either ignored or blocked his calls.

Stuck with a 6-foot tree stump and no indication it would ever be removed, Gorski emailed What's Your Problem? in late October.

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