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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Selectmen Get Update on Trees; Removals ‘Not Willy-Nilly’

Trees were again the subject of a lively discussion at the Board of Selectmen today with word that new trees are scheduled to be planted on Main Street by the end of May/early June and new cherry trees will be planted in front of Town Hall.

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This apple tree in front of Town Hall is rotted and needs to come down, Public Works Director Steve Edwards told the Board of Selectmen today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The board accepted a donation of seven trees worth $3,000 – six from Oliver Nurseries in Fairfield and one from Millane Nurseries, Inc. of Cromwell.

Pubic Works Director Steve Edwards said the donations, obtained by Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay, will allow planting of a number of 18- to 20-foot tall trees on the south end of Main Street before mid-June. He said they would have a 4-inch caliper, meaning their trunks will be 4 inches across.

This will ensure that they will be consistent with the streetscape and not block awnings or windows, he said.

This donation, coupled with a donation of 34 trees accepted by Board of Selectmen in March (see WestportNow March 12, 2014), will allow for additional planting of trees on Main Street in the fall as well as in other public places, Edwards said.

He said among the new plantings planned are four cherry trees in front of Town Hall, which prompted a question from Selectman Helen Garten: “Can I make a plea for the apple tree in front of Town Hall?”

“Have you looked at it,” responded Edwards.

“No, not in great detail,” Garten said of the tree that has been posted for removal.

“The issue is – we can keep anything,” Edwards said, “if you want to take a liability issue on it. “

He explained that with the heavy traffic underneath the tree on the sidewalk there is a risk because the tree is severely rotted. “You get a full bloom on that and it’s got a significant weight cantilevering over the sidewalk,” he said.

Edwards added, “We’ve had a number of people who’ve called in and questioned on it and Bruce (Lindsay) has taken the time to go out and actually show them what his concerns are. And again, we are in the business of mitigating, reducing liability.

“And should something happen, especially after we’ve noticed it and posted it and done everything with it, should something happen – it’s just as painful as the trees down at Longshore.”

Edwards said “the good news is that we have a proactive tree warden now that is using knowledge and science to make a determination. It’s not made on emotion.” He said Lindsay’s goal is to get 100 trees replanted this year and the town is at a point now where about 50 are ready to go in.

“It’s not something that’s being done willy-nilly,” he said. “It’s being done with a lot of thought.”

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Posted 04/09/14 at 03:05 PM



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My only question is about Mr. Lindsay’s arborist qualifications—or about the certified arborists consulting on these removals—particularly the Apple Tree in front of Town Hall. (And not arborists who have a vested interest, even by way of a donation which garners publicity and tax benefits). Let me be clear: I am not questioning them, I’d simply like to know what they are.

I’m sure many others will join me in finding it odd that the tree has “significant rot” and still bears fruit.

Westport just admirably voted against genetically modified grass seed. The age of this tree likely puts it out of GMO range, although clearly it was hybridized as all American apples are.

For this reason alone, it’s worth the effort of saving through pruning and other methods in order to make an example of our town’s commitment to real-food stock.

While we’ve come to think of trees like this as decorative, it has a real food value, in an era where the nature of our food supply is increasingly in question. If only because of its food-value this tree, in particular, and all fruit bearing trees that are still in production, should be evaluated accordingly by the town. If we know decorative grass should be pure and clean, then why aren’t we fighting to save food-trees that already are?

Posted by Ramin Ganeshram on April 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM | #
 

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