Tree committee concerned about meeting requirements of tree planting grant
The town Tree Preservation and Protection Committee talked at length at its Oct. 24 meeting about an unfinished beautification project at the corner of High Street and Walcott Avenue.
According to Tree Warden Dave Nickerson, Mary Keen of Carr Lane finished the landscaping design for the triangular park, but neither he nor the committee had yet received a copy.
Nickerson told the committee that the design could be approved or modified at a later date, but "the main thing is to get a tree in the ground and don't lose the grant." Some 11 days were left to meet the provisions of the state grant that funds projects for arbor plantings, he added. As in numerous meetings this year, he again repeated the importance of fulfilling grant parameters "so as not to have a black mark against the town for future grant requests."
"This is a project that is for the better good for the whole community," Nickerson said.
Committee Chairman Emmet Turley insisted that written approval from Town Hall on any project was essential to its completion, and asked the tree warden if he received a letter of support from the town on the project.
Conservation Commission Liaison Patrick Driscoll asked if the work and money that the town had already invested in the project displayed previous approval to the project.
Nickerson agreed that the town had shown support, noting that the previous town administrator, Mark Haddad, had approved the beautification project. He also noted that according to the town solicitor, the town has the authority to plant trees on the site.
Nickerson said that in Zoning Ordinance section 82-306 concerning departures from yard regulations, landscape features such as trees may be planted on any property. He also stated that the proposed vegetation conformed to section 82-309 of the ordinance, which calls for a 15-foot setback from the curb.
However, Nickerson said the current town administrator told him to seek approval from the abutter to the corner site, who has objected to plantings of any trees on the site.
The tree warden said he spoke with Town Administrator Bruce Kaiser, who told him the tree shall not block any water view, "and if it does, it will be pruned or removed."
The commission belabored the holdup of the tree plantings at the triangular park for almost an hour before agreeing to meet this Friday, Oct. 20, to review the plan and the site.
In an unrelated, matter, Eagle Scout Brian Volpe gave the commission an update on his Eagle Scout project to create signage for the Town Forest at the Jamestown School. He reported that Public Works Director Steve Goslee purchased wood for the project. The wood had been cut and was ready for assembly, Volpe said.
He mentioned that he could not use posts for the signs because of the Native American burial ground at the site. The committee then discussed alternative ideas for securing
them. Volpe also asked the committee for suggestions on where to install the signs.
Nickerson advised a sign on the path coming in from the Melrose Avenue School parking lot and on the path leading from Lawn Avenue School. He suggested that the main sign go at the entrance on Melrose Avenue.
Volpe noted he planned to have the signs completed and installed by the last weekend of October.
Turley praised Volpe's design and choice of materials.
In unfinished business, the committee reviewed the newly created tree inventory list from last month and discussed various options for finding help in updating the database.
Nickerson suggested asking the town planner for an intern, or asking the Rhode Island Tree Council for a volunteer that would update the list of trees and possible areas for future plantings.
He provided the committee with a list of sites where trees could be planted in next year's program. Committee member Judith DiBello noted that a number of responses came in from residents, and good sites were found for trees for the upcoming planting program.
In other business, the tree warden reported that the town would support development of an electronic permitting process. Permits are required to plant or remove trees on public property.
Judy DiBello submitted her resignation from the committee effective at the end of December.
Edwina Cloherty and James Rugh sat in on the meeting as prospective committee members.
Turley announced that November's meeting would be held at the library.
Committee members Walter Boll and Michael White were absent.