Submitted by Jacqueline Edwards, chair of BARC
Removing 31 trees – so many of them large, roadside trees—on an historic Scenic Road—is important. It is consequential: to the character of the road, to climate change, to the speed of passing cars, to the many other environmental functions trees perform, even to property values. This substantial project should have a review that is transparent, inclusive, and thorough. It has not, to date. Unless the Planning Board postpones the Hearing scheduled for January 12 (details below), or citizens object at the Hearing, it will not.
Some of the trees are old and sick, have lived their useful lives, and become hazards. Some should be removed so they don’t come down in a storm and leave our residents cold and in the dark during a winter storm. Some might just need to be pruned. Much of this can be a judgment call.
But Bedford’s residents have not been offered the opportunity for an adequate review process for a project that appears to have been in the works for at least a year. That is unless you think that a legal notice in the Bedford Minuteman during the Christmas-New Year holiday week and another such this week represents a real effort to inform the community. What’s more, I’m the chair of the Arbor Resource Committee (BARC), and I didn’t hear about this project until a resident asked me about it last week. Please note, this letter represents my opinion and mine only.
The thing is, including the community in the process not only should be done, it can be done. I know this because it has been done, and done to good effect.
When there was a similar, larger project to remove about 100 trees from around town just a few years ago, residents were given high-visibility notice and the opportunity to look at the trees themselves. Some asked for pruning rather than removal. One asked for an additional tree to be removed. The process did take more time, but safe changes were made. Residents knew they’d been heard and were satisfied. The arborists from Eversource said they thought the process turned out well.
Rather than include our voices, our town has chosen to circumvent them to the extent the law and loopholes allow.
The Planning Board should postpone their Hearing of this potentially transformative project until the weather allows residents adequate time to visit and assess the affected trees. The project does not include trees previously removed on Page and Shawsheen Roads:
Eversource has identified 30 trees on Page Road that it wants to cut down. Of those, the Tree Warden has identified 3 that he believes are risks; they are at #6, 16, and 26 Page Road. They will be removed
- Twenty-seven (27) trees are on Page Road at # 12, 14, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40, 42, 44, 97, 112, and 118. They are oaks, maples, ash, elm, hickory, and pine
- Twenty-two (22) are substantial trees, ranging from 6” to over 36+” and nine (9) are only 1.5” – 6” in diameter breast height (DBH).
- A healthy pine at 168 Springs Road in “close proximity to wires,” is included in the request for removal
The Planning Board Scenic Road Hearing will take place at 7 pm on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. Remote participation—https://zoom.us/j/98170099341?pwd=RUlsZDluc1QrKzVPY09CNU5wakF1Zz09
ID# 981 7009 9341 — Password 812379
Thank you for your time and attention.