2005-10-27 / News

Panel targets trees in need

Many trees on public property are neglected, committee told
By Michaela Kennedy

The Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee announced last week that bidding was open for quotes on the Town Forest Removal project. Also at the Oct. 18 meeting, the committee discussed trees in public rights-of-way.

In an open forum discussion, committee member Emmett Turley voiced concern about the condition of trees on public land. He said that the committee has been submitting reports on a monthly basis to the Department of Public Works, but nothing has been done to maintain the trees.

He and his wife Hazel, who is a tree steward, reviewed the trees about town, Turley said. He gave a report on the trees and complained to the committee that many trees on public property were neglected.

In his report, Turley cited a number of trees along Narragansett Ave. that were in poor condition, even “near death.”

Town Arborist Dave Nickerson told Turley that it was part of the committee’s responsibility to go out and talk to youth groups, landscapers, the recreation department, and others about pitching in to help care for the trees. “$750 were approved (in the town budget) for watering, but nothing has been done with it,” Nickerson said.

Nickerson praised Turley’s work to help preserve the trees. Before Turley joined the committee, no one had taken enough care of town-owned trees, he said.

“I get a lot of compliments about the tree planting program. People are happy about it, and it’s because of your efforts,” Nickerson said to Turley.

In the tree warden’s report, Nickerson noted that the town forest removal bid was posted and would go out to those names on the regular mailing list. Because the bid might be more than $5,000, “it may be posted in the Providence Journal,” he added.

Nickerson also noted that the state requires a bid to be posted for at least five days, “and North Kingstown likes to give 14 days.”

The tree committee discussed the identification of trees in rights–of-way. Nickerson said that he and Frank Andres, the committee’s chairman, asked a few local officials how to identify the boundaries of rights-of-way. “Basically, they can’t tell unless there is a survey,” Nickerson said. He also said that he did not want the town to pay for taking down a tree if it was on private property.

Nickerson mentioned a few times when the town and the abutting property owner didn’t know which property a tree was on, so the owner agreed to pay half the cost to take down the tree. He pointed out that if someone has shrubs in a right-ofway, “I have no jurisdiction.”

Nickerson said that North Kingston has handled such problems by adopting a visibility ordinance.

Planning Commission liaison Barry Holland said he would bring the idea up before the commission.

The last agenda item for the evening was the completion of 2005 plantings. Referring to the $750 in the budget for tree watering, Nickerson said he wanted to hold off on further plantings until the committee had the watering handled. Holland suggested that the topic be put on the agenda for discussion at the committe’s next meeting.

Acting Chairwoman Judith DiBello said that the committee had received a number of e-mails from the Girl Scouts, who wrote that they were available for volunteer work.

Matt Largess, who represents the business community, suggested doing another Arbor Day. The committee decided to discuss at a later date possibilities for volunteer work.

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