2006-03-02 / News

Tree pruning and removal requests reviewed; deputy tree warden discussed

By Michaela Kennedy

At its monthly meeting on Feb. 21, the Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee voted to approve removal of a tree on Clinton Avenue, and also discussed training employees in the public works department to prune trees and getting a deputy tree warden.

In the tree warden’s report, Dave Nickerson said that the committee received a written request by John Brittain of Windridge Properties for the removal of a tree on Clinton Avenue.

In exchange, Brittain wrote, he would plant three to four other trees that would not be in the in the way of the power lines. He also offered to pay for four additional trees “to be purchased and planted elsewhere on the island where the tree committee feels appropriate,” according to the letter. Nickerson noted that the offer meets the requirements of tree replacement.

“Before we move ahead, we should check the Planning Commission’s conditions for approval,” Planning Commission liaison Barry Holland suggested.

Nickerson agreed and added that the tree should be appraised before removal. “If it is a cross between an English or European butternut, it could be more valuable,” he added.

Holland moved to go ahead with the removal of the butternut tree, pending review of the Brittain’s development plan conditions.

Also in the tree warden’s report, Nickerson said the power company promised to take care of branches that interfere with power lines on the island. “That will save us a lot of money,” he added.

Nickerson noted that Public Works Director Steve Goslee approached him about training the public works employees to prune trees. “They want to prune roots and branches before putting down a new waterline,” Nickerson said.

In an update on the procedure for hiring a deputy tree warden, Holland said there were already specific requirements for a deputy warden.

Committee member Bob Nolan suggested creating a job description, which would be on a part-time basis. Nolan asked Nickerson what responsibilities he would like a deputy tree warden to have. Nickerson replied that a deputy would be allowed to make tree-related decisions in the field.

Holland suggested talking to the town administrator about the need for a deputy and training for the position.

The committee brought up the tree-care policy and agreed to discuss it as an agenda item at the next meeting. Nickerson said that in order to carry out tree watering, the town could get a water buffalo, a 200-gallon container, for around $350. He would bring specifications for a few container options to the next meeting, he said.

During the discussion, the town arborist poured a powdery substance onto a plate and added a few cups of water to it. About 15 minutes later in the meeting, Nickerson drew attention to the soft, balloon-like granules that had swelled up on the plate. “Hydrogel absorbs 10 times the volume of water. Mix a little in with soil,” he said. The new hydrogel technology would slowly release water as a help between waterings.

Committee Chairman Emmet Turley asked the tree warden for a list of new plantings in 2005. Nickerson agreed to supply it, as well as a list of scheduled plantings for 2006.

Nickerson said that if the town started its own municipal court, tree citations would become easier for the town to process.

He asked if someone could take care of updates to the committee’s Web site on a regular basis. He pointed out specific links on the site that should be cleaned up.

Holland noted that committee member Frank Andres, who was absent, should first be asked, since Andres set it up originally.

The town arborist also asked about attendance. He said the committee should look at the liaisons and find out how important it is to the town in general to have representation on the committee. He commended Holland for doing a good job as Planning Commission liaison, but suggested that the committee contact other groups on the island that are represented but have not been attending.

In other business, the Town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee:

• Gave unanimous approval to recommend the 2006-2007 budget.

• Discussed the possibility of an Arbor Day committee. Nolan suggested looking at a combined effort with the garden club.

• Discussed the possibility of planting a tree at the East Ferry waterfront square. Nolan mentioned some reasons for not planting at the square, “mainly because trees grow.” Nickerson agreed. A tree there would become a view issue, he said.

• Approved amendments to the committee’s bylaws concerning Scope of Work. Holland asked that the members have a chance to see the changes in draft form before giving final approval.

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