Questions arise as more Main Street trees come down
Published 7:20 am, Saturday, August 22, 2015
For P.J. Letersky, the prospect that some “perfectly healthy trees” in front of his Main Street office are going to be cut down by the town has is troubling. And he’d like to know why.
Four pear trees are being removed as part of a downtown infrastructure improvement project, which includes installing new brick sidewalks.
Letersky said the sidewalks already installed along the street look amazing. Work on the sidewalks in front of his Coldwell Banker office and up to and past Chase Bank, where the trees are located, has yet to be done.
“Most of them are perfectly healthy, just one looks like it’s dying,” he said of the trees. “There’s got to be a better way.”
He suggested the trees could be worked around while the sidewalks are being installed.
“If you’ve ever seen them bloom in the spring, with these white blossoms, they are amazing,” he said Wednesday. “When there’s a slight breeze, the blossoms fall and it looks like it’s snowing. I’d hate to see them go.”
But they will be cut down, and town Tree Warden Bruce Lindsay explained why.
He said the trees are being removed because they would not survive the excavation needed to put in the sidewalks and underground electrical conduits. The excavation, Lindsay said, is extensive and would compromise the trees’ entire root systems. “There is no way they could survive,” he said, adding one of the targeted trees is already dying.
Besides, he noted, pear trees not the best choice to be planted in a downtown area. And, he added, they were planted too close to the road and have been damaged over the years when trucks, using the loading zone in that section of Main Street, bang into them.
“The trees aren’t strong,” Lindsay added. “They were popular back in the ’80s and ’90s, but they are prone to breakage.”
The pear trees will be taken down in a week or two, when the demolition of the curbs and sidewalks begins, said Lindsay.
The trees will be replaced by three Princeton elms, which are hybrid American elms that are resistant to Dutch elm disease, he noted.
When they are planted, they will be “more centrally located” on the sidewalks and away from the edge of the roadway. The new trees are already about 20 feet tall, Lindsay said.
The downtown upgrades began in the spring.
The project includes nearly 9,800 linear feet of new or existing sidewalks throughout downtown, including 1,800 linear feet of new sidewalks on Main Street. The Main Street sidewalks are getting new granite curbing and tree grates, according to town officials. And new energy-efficient lights/lamppost — designed to complement the town's historic character — are replacing the former “highway type” lights.
Besides planting new trees, the project includes the addition of an underground electrical conduit.
The infrastructure project, which in addition to Main Street includes Elm Street and sections of the Post Road, is partially funded by a grant of $497,595 from the state’s Main Street Investment Fund awarded to the town in July 2013.