As ground breaking nears for construction of the new West Tisbury library, the town selectmen this week reviewed a tree-cutting plan to accommodate the larger design.
At their meeting Wednesday, the board approved the removal of two trees on the library property, one behind the Howes House and the second at the entrance of the parking lot across from Alley’s General Store. Town tree warden Jeremiah Brown recommended removing the two trees immediately because they posed a serious safety hazard. The town historical commission approved the tree cutting two weeks ago at a public hearing.
Mr. Brown reviewed 13 trees in all, targeted for removal to accommodate the library’s environmentally-conscious parking lot plan with a porous surface and rain gardens along the sides.
Mr. Brown recommended removing one other large tree, also located behind the Howes House, because he said it is not healthy, and four smaller trees on the edge of the Field Gallery property. He recommended saving three larger trees along the gallery property line.
Selectman and board chairman Cynthia Mitchell requested a visual rendering before any decisions are made about the remaining 11 trees. She suggested the town take a three-part approach by discussing a landscape plan for the parking lot, for the surrounding area and townwide.
Mr. Brown recommended replacing the tree at the top of the driveway with an October glory maple; town resident Viriginia Jones has offered to donate the tree.
He said the remaining Norway maples could be maintained but eventually all should be taken down.
“They’re bad trees in general,” he said. “The reason why I’m not recommending to remove them all now is I think it’s too much of a dramatic impact all at once. Take some of the worst ones that are bad, a few to help the library get the rain garden going and leave the rest until new ones grow up around.”
Landscape consultant and Polly Hill Arboretum director Tim Boland said he agreed with Mr. Brown’s recommendations, except for one large shade tree on the Field Gallery property line.
“It is right in the rain garden and it is going to lift the [porous parking lot] pavers and be the most problematic,” he said. “We’re tree people . . . but it’s going to be the worst offender in terms of its roots.”
Mr. Brown had not listed the tree for removal, but agreed with Mr. Boland in part.
“It’s definitely the worst one when it comes to the rain garden,” he said, adding: “People aren’t going to like it if you cut it down. The advantage is there are other trees behind it closer to the Field Gallery; you can take it out and still have trees behind it.”
“I didn’t realize we were dealing with Godzilla,” selectman Richard Knabel said of the root system.
Selectman Jeffrey (Skipper) Manter 3rd said he understood the invasive nature of the trees but called for long-term plan.
“If it takes 10 years to address all of those trees I think we’ve planned well,” he said. “I think this needs to be over time as other ones grow in and plantings come up.”
In other business, the selectmen voted to contact state legislative representatives to intervene with the state highway department over the metal guardrail on the bridge at the Mill River Ford. The state recently replaced a wooden railing on one side of the bridge with metal guardrails after an accident.
Town administrator Jennifer Rand said she spoke with someone in the maintenance department at the state department of transportation who confirmed plans to replace the wooden rail on the other side with a metal one, designed to withstand a crash test at 45 miles per hour.
“What I’m hearing is [department of transportation] speak,” Mr. Knabel said. “Maybe we need to go to bat on the bridge rather than the guardrail — I think it’s worth trying to slow them down and get them to the table.”
Mr. Manter agreed.
“Don’t give up the fight,” Mr. Manter said. “What do we have to lose to maintain the character of the town?”