The Bedford Arbor Resources Committee (BARC) met remotely last Wednesday, June 20, 2020, to review proposed changes to tree removal plans around the parking lots of John Glenn Middle School and to discuss monitoring of gas leaks that harm trees. Chair Jaci Edwards ran the meeting. In addition to the committee, those present were DPW Director David Manugian, Facilities Director Taissir Alani, Tree Warden Dennis Freeman, and members of the engineering/architectural firm tasked with executing the project.
The primary goals of the JGMS project were two-fold, to provide greater safety where the parking lot abuts Railroad Avenue and to provide an ADA compliant path through the grove in front of the school. Though small, the grove provides valuable biodiversity.
Last November, an informal agreement was reached at a BARC meeting, attended by Facilities Director Taissir Alani; Assistant Facilities Director Ron Scaltreto; Project Manager Peter Cox; TBA Architects’ Justin Humphreys; Tree Warden Denny Freeman; and landscape consultant David Walsh. The total number of trees earmarked for removal was reduced by fourteen.
However, once the work was underway this spring, the contractors felt that the underlying topography required that they change the route that was planned. The new route would take the path so close to healthy mature trees that their root systems would be impacted and the trees would be rendered hazardous over time. The Tree Warden determined that a continuation of November’s Town Tree Meeting was required.
Out of the ten trees earmarked for removal, six can be saved. An arborist was asked to evaluate the trees. One tree was already dead. Five more would be removed for safety. Two others should be cabled for safety. It was noted that leaving the stump of one of the trees in place could help with the stability of the root system of an abutting tree, preventing it from becoming hazardous.
BARC member Ken Prescott asked who would be responsible for watering the trees, noting the necessity of regular watering of newly-planted trees. The DPW’s Grounds Crew will water the area.
The Effect of Methane Leaks on Trees
Methane gas displaces the oxygen in the soil and inhibits root growth and can eventually kill the tree. There is a multi-town effort in Massachusetts to track and address leaks. Methane leak detection equipment can be purchased for about $2000. For an additional $450 software can be purchased that will directly send leak location information to the town GIS system.
In the meantime, the Committee will learn how the system is working in other towns. Damage claims can be filed against utilities for damage caused by methane leaks. Arlington and Wellesley routinely make such claims to cover the value of the tree as well as the cost of removing and replacing it. Whether to make that expenditure will be taken up at the next BARC meeting on July 9 at 12:00 noon
For previous meetings on this subject see: https://thebedfordcitizen.org/2019/11/town-tree-meeting-removal-of-up-to-24-public-trees-to-improve-safety-at-jgms/