Town's plan to hire tree warden branches out
If all goes according to schedule, the town will have a new tree warden on the job by early September.
Steve Edwards, director of the Department of Public Works, told the Board of Finance on Wednesday night that a "request for proposals" relating to a new warden has been issued and are scheduled to be reviewed before the end of August.
"I was hoping to have it out earlier, but it is out on the street now," he said.
"It is a fairly broad request ... We're looking for a commitment from an individual for about an average of 30 to 35 hours a week," Edwards said, based on the season.
The qualified tree specialist they seek will be a contract employee without benefits, and will make about $40,000 annually.
Currently, the town has the services of a tree warden only one day a week.
Edwards said that while the First Selectman Gordon Joseloff will appoint the new warden, Edwards will work with a small review panel to make a final recommendation to him.
Finance Chairman Avi Kaner made note that several tree-related deaths and disasters were a factor in the board's decision to allocate the additional funding for the warden in this year's budget, following a request from Joseloff.
"During the storms of recent years we've all witnessed the destruction," he said.
Edwards said the nearly full-time warden would enable the town to more aggressively identify trees on public property that may potentially be hazardous.
"You've talked a lot about taking trees down," noted finance board member Helen Garten. "I'm hoping the tree warden is also going to play a role in the maintenance of our town trees and advising on new plantings."
The only member of the public who spoke, Jennifer Johnson, echoed her concern.
"We not only need to remove trees, we need to replace them," she said.
"I encourage the town to make sure that they're replaced for future generations. ... And I encourage the tree warden to be actively involved in replacing the trees that were lost downtown," he added.