DPW director: Gas line installation in tree belts on hold

  • Several trees in the tree belt on the north side of Norwood Street have been slated for removal. April 23, 2018 Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

Recorder staff
Published: 4/26/2018 11:43:11 PM

GREENFIELD — Seven trees on Norwood Street once slated for removal are now safe, and gas line installation in tree belts will be on hold until at least Monday, according to Director of Public Works Donald Ouellette.

Ouellette said the work will be on pause until a preliminary injunction hearing in Franklin County Superior Court Monday. That hearing was scheduled after concerned residents objected to the removal of seven trees on Norwood Street. The trees were to be removed to allow Berkshire Gas to easily install gas lines.

Ouellette’s announcements came during a public tree hearing Thursday, when the city discussed the potential removal of 19 trees along various streets, including the seven trees on Norwood Street.

Ouellette said gas lines were already replaced on Norwood Street, and that the seven trees posted for potential removal are not going to face the ax after all.

The removal of the trees came under scrutiny when one resident, Glen Ayers of 254 Davis St., filed a complaint along with 21 other residents, including his partner Mary Chicoine.

More than 30 residents showed up to Thursday’s hearing, with several objecting to the removal of trees unless replacement trees are planted.

“Trees are living entities,” Sandra Boston of Abbott Street said after the meeting. “I want trees treated like entities of our community.”

After several objections to trees being cut down, Ouellette said he would ask Berkshire Gas to stop going through tree belts to replace gas lines today.

“I think it’s great so many people showed up. It’s overwhelming how many people showed up,” Chicoine said. “The public is speaking. You heard it tonight for sure.”

Ouellette said if the installation of gas lines within tree belts is stopped, then so does an oral agreement the city and Berkshire Gas have, which had the company donating $200 to Greenfield for every tree removed. That money was being placed into a revolving fund that was being used to plant trees in the city.

“I don’t have a problem with it. It’s just that the re-planting stops,” Ouellette said.

Seven trees safe

On Norwood Street, the gas line was placed in the tree belt until it came near trees, according to Ouellette, and the line was then put in around the trees and through the roadway.

Residents were concerned about what they saw as a conspicuous absence of Mayor William Martin, who Ouellette and tree warden Paul Raskevitz said had the final say in whether trees would be removed.

According to Martin, he had other meetings and functions scheduled and was unable to attend the tree hearing.

He said he receives a report from both the tree warden and director of public works after tree hearings are held, then a decision is made with assistance from both Raskevitz and Ouellette.

You can reach
Dan Desrochers at:

ddesrochers@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 257




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