SHIRLEY — Selectmen on Monday night held a public hearing on a proposal to remove 38 town-owned trees that, according to Tree Warden Paul Farrar, are dead or dying and could pose a risk to public safety or might fall onto power lines next winter.
The targeted trees are in addition to those that National Grid’s arborist put on the utility company’s preventative hit list earlier this year. All of those trees have since been taken down or pruned.
This time, the trees are all located in public rights of way along several town roads, including Holden, Whitney and Horse Pond roads, to name a few, and are thus subject to the town’s shade-tree bylaw, which requires a public hearing.
Whitney Road resident Janet Tice, who was concerned about a particular tree tagged for removal on or near her forested property, asked who would be responsible if damage was done to her trees or property during the removal of the tree, work that Garvin said would be done by National Grid contractors at no cost to the town.
Although Garvin said she could not answer Tice’s “what if” question on the spot, she promised to find out. As for the tree, the selectmen’s first suggestion was to be there when the crew showed up to remove the tree, which Tice dismissed as impractical, short of “chaining myself to the tree.”
Prescott then offered Tice a more realistic alternative, offering an on-site meeting with Farrar, the same option offered to other residents who spoke up for specific trees they hoped to save.
Gordon Chase of Brown Road had concerns for a big, old oak tree in Holden Woods that Farrar has tagged for removal. As a member of the Holden family, he’s part owner of the property and wants to preserve the scenic garden tableau to which he said the tree is central. Also, he doesn’t think the tree is dead. He agreed to meet with Farrar to review the matter.
But Tice asked about the tree warden’s credentials, questioning his qualifications for the job. While conceding that the Department of Public Works foreman is not a professional arborist, Prescott cited Farrar’s 40 years of experience in the field.
“Paul’s not looking to cut trees if there’s no need,” he told another resident who asked to save a white pine near her home.
“Typically, a pine that big is rotted inside,” Prescott said.
The board voted unanimously on a motion to take down all the trees on the list except those that residents had asked about, which they agreed to put a hold on for now.