GREENFIELD — The town’s Department of Public Works has begun removing trees along Silver Street in preparation for a major repair project that will begin May 1.
The project will repair and replace storm drains, water lines, sewer infiltration and sidewalks. When the construction is over, the road will be repaved. DPW Director Don Ouellette said he’s expecting the project to cost between $880,000 and $900,000, and will likely be completed by Oct. 1.
“They’re going to end up doing all the pipe work first, and once they get all that done, they’re going to get into the sidewalk and curbing work, and then they’ll repave the road,” Ouellette said. “We’ve got an extensive detour plan, and it’s going to be very similar to what the gas company did, so we will block the road off section by section, and we may have to close the entire road down for a day while we pave.”
Ouellette said Silver Street is a high volume road and the main entrance to the high school, which is why the project was prioritized this year. He said it has been on the town’s agenda for six or seven years.
This week, the DPW began removing seven trees in the tree belt along the road. Ouellette said there is a drain pipe that runs directly underneath the sidewalk, meaning crews will have to excavate 6 to 7 feet of earth, destroying the tree roots under the sidewalk. He said the roots on the other side will also be killed by the road work.
“By eliminating roots on both sides, (the trees) probably wouldn’t last more than a couple of years, and then it would cost a significant amount of money trying to pull the trees out, after we’ve already spent almost half a million on the construction,” Ouellette said, noting most of the trees, which are Norway maples, are already in poor health.
Violet Walker, who lives on Silver Street, said she’s opposed to the town removing the trees — especially one on the edge of her property, which she said is still healthy. She proposed giving the town a piece of her land so the sidewalk could be built around the tree in a semi-circle, protecting its roots.
“There’s no reason to cut down a perfectly good tree because we can’t figure out how to build a road or a sidewalk around it,” she said.
Walker said the trees help cool her house and buffer noise from the street during the summertime.
Ouellette said it’s necessary to remove the trees before construction, but said the DPW promised to give Walker several trees next year during planting season.
“I don’t want a bunch of trees, I want that tree,” Walker said. “They’re going to give me a little, spindly tree, and I’ll have to live another 50 years to see it grow (to the same size). I’m going to be dead then. I’ll be 125 years old then, so I won’t see that nice, beautiful tree.”