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Additional funds needed to assist with tree removal


June 14, 2013

By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — A $200,000 appropriation for tree management for the Department of Public Works (DPW) is scheduled for discussion and vote at the June 17 meeting of the Town Council.

The money would be appropriated from the Free Cash account and would enable the DPW to hire contractors to assist with the removal of diseased and dead trees throughout the town.

"At this rate, we're not going to get caught up anytime soon," Rob Colson, director of the DPW, said. If the appropriation does not pass, he said the DPW will "have to try to do more somehow — the appropriation is necessary."

During a presentation to the council in April, Colson stated calls are received every day from residents reporting trees that are in need of care. Last year the DPW removed 180 trees. This year, 170 trees are already scheduled for removal because they are diseased, dying or dead.

He said the list fluctuates between 160 and 200 trees on any given day. Enlisting the help of outside contractors would enable the DPW to return to trimming and caring for trees to prevent their removal.

When asked if a specific threat was affecting the trees, Colson told Reminder Publications, "No particular disease is afflicting the trees. The number of trees that need to be removed is caused by multiple origins."

He said that one theory is that the Oct. 28, 2011 snowstorm may have weakened the tree branches, causing them to become further damaged or to break on windy days.

Roberta Page, Historic District Commission (HDC) chair, previously said that the HDC would prefer to hire certified arborists to assess the damage before removing the trees completely. Colson addressed those concerns.

"Ninety-nine percent of the employees for tree removal companies are arborists," he said, adding that hiring a third-party arborist would further delay the DPW work schedule. The contract would have to go out for bid, a process that can take four to six weeks.

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