Removal of Trees in Watertown by Cambridge Has Been Halted

The removal of trees in Watertown by the City of Cambridge has been stopped, and more assessment will be done before any others are removed. Cutting of trees along the Linear Path behind Town Hall and between Whites and Waverley avenues has drawn strong condemnation from many Watertown residents. The trees sit on top of land owned by the City of Cambridge, and which is above a pipe that supplies water to Cambridge. Town Council President Mark Sideris announced the halt of tree removals at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. “Believe me, the Town, Town Administration and Town Council are very disappointed with the (City of Cambridge’s) actions and the method of communication with the Town,” Sideris said.

LETTER: Resident Disappointed by How Decision to Remove Trees Was Made

Dear Mr. Driscoll,

As a resident of Watertown, I am writing to voice my strong displeasure, disappointment, and shock by the recent news that the City of Cambridge has decided to remove several decades-old trees along Linear Park in Watertown, as recently reported in the Watertown Tab {and Watertown News}. These trees, as you no doubt know, provide immense economic, social, and emotional benefits to the residents of our town as well as valuable green space for wildlife. I am not only saddened by the loss of these trees, but am deeply concerned about the way the decision-making process to remove these trees has unfolded over the past several years as Cambridge approached Watertown to inform us of their intent. Local stakeholders were not adequately informed and a clear and community-engaged process was not laid out. My understanding is that the 100 year old water pipe is dug quite deep and is not in danger of tree root infiltration.

Q&A: Town Councilor Talks About Removal of Trees in Town by Cambridge

Residents have reacted strongly to the news that 25 trees behind Town Hall and along the Community Path will be removed. Confusing the matter more is the fact that the trees sit on land that is owned by the City of Cambridge, despite being within the limits of Watertown and in some cases what appears to be people’s back yards. According to a letter sent by Cambridge’s Water Department to a Watertown resident questioning the removal of the trees, the depth of the pipe below the surface is three feet but can be as little as one foot. In their surveying of the pipe, Cambridge officials found a piece of pipe blocked by roots near Arsenal Street. Town Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli, who represents District C – where the trees are located – responded to questions from Watertown News about the tree removal.

LETTER: Watertown Tree Group Opposes Removal of Trees Along Path

The existence of substantial shade trees on Cambridge property along Watertown’s Linear Park may not have been planned, but the positive environmental and community contributions of these trees to Watertown are very real and quantifiable.  Using the USDA Forest Service’s program i-Tree, a large healthy urban tree is typically assessed at many thousands of dollars in cumulative services and benefits. Regarding Cambridge’s asserted necessity to take these trees down, we must question how likely it is that shade tree species which typically have a maximum root depth of 18 inches can damage a water main that is reportedly as many as 8-10 feet underground. Cambridge is undertaking takedown of these trees, and official Watertown is acquiescing, with no public acknowlegement of the extent of negative impact this large-scale degradation of green infrastructure will have in the heart of Watertown:  damage to wildlife corridor, elimination of cooling summer shade for neighboring homes, the loss of natural interest and calming beauty which these tall trees have provided for pedestrians taking this quiet path through the congested center of Watertown. On the Cambridge City Arborist website as well as on Cambridge streets, we see evidence that Cambridge increasingly recognizes and invests in the valuable infrastructural role urban trees play in managing stormwater and in cooling urban hardscape in summer, as well as in providing beauty and a restorative connection with nature for its citizens – within its own city borders. Does Cambridge equally recognize the value of preserving shade trees on their property in Watertown?

Trees Growing Over Cambridge Water Pipe Through Town Will be Removed

Unbeknownst to many in Watertown, 20 foot wide piece of land stretching from one end of town to the other is actually owned by the City of Cambridge, and that area has become a source of confusion and controversy now that Cambridge announced the removal of trees on the land that sits above a large water pipe. The water main, 4 to 5 feet in diameter, connects Cambridge to one of its main water sources – a reservoir in Waltham. Over the years, trees have grown over the pipe and the roots of some have infiltrated the pipe. The Cambridge Watertown Department informed Watertown Tree Warden Chris Hayward at the end of January that 25 trees will be removed from the area along Linear Park (behind Town Hall) and along the Community Path between Whites Avenue and Waverley Avenue. The work will take place between Feb.

Town Has Free Street Trees, See Which Species are Available

The Watertown Tree Warden has street trees available to be planted on the street in your front yard close to the sidewalk. 

If you would like a tree to be planted, please email your top three choices to Tree Warden Chris Hayward at chayward@watertown-ma.gov. He will come out to your site to see if there is a suitable planting location and let you know whether a tree can or cannot be planted. Keep in mind, if you are interested, that trees can also be planted on private property within 20-feet of the public right of way. Watertown Fall 2016 Street tree availability list Species (Common ) Species (Botanical ) with height and then spread listed. Small and Front Yard trees

Celestial dogwood Cornus rutgan 15′ to 25′ 12′ to 15′

Canada red cherry Prunus virginiana 20′ to 25′ 18′ to 20′

Coral burst crab Malus × moerlandsii ‘Profusion’ 10′ to 15′ 10′ to 15′

Snowgoose cherry Prunus serrulata “Snowgoose” 20′ to 25′ 15′ to 20′

Kwanzan cherry Prunus serrulata “Kwanzan” 20′ to 25′ 20′ to 30′

Medium sized trees

Cleveland select pear Pyrus calleryana ‘Cleveland select’ 25′ to 35′ 15′ to 20′

Hop-Hornbeam Ostrya virginiana 15′ to 30′ 12′ to 25′

Sun valley maple Acer rubrum “Sun Valley” 20′ to 30′ 20′ to 30′

Large Shade Trees

Pin oak Quercus palustris 50′ to 70′ 30′ to 40′

Red oak Quercus rubra 75′ to 100′ 60′ to 75′

Elm “Princeton” Ulmus spp. 50′ to 70′ 30′ to 50′

Ginko Ginko biloba 50′ to 80′ 35′ to 45′

Skyline Honeylocust Gleditsia triacanthos inerms 45′ to 60′ 25′ to 35′

Autumn blaze red maple Acer rubrum 40′ to 50′ 30′ to 40′

Sweetgum Liquidambar styraciflua 50′ to 70′ 30′ to 40′

Tulip tree Liriodendron tulipifera 60′ to 90′ 30′ to 50′

Horsechesnut Aesculus hippocastanum 40′ to 60′ 30′ to 40′

Black gum Nyssa sylvatica 40′ to 65′ 30′ to 40′

Find Out What Happened to the Trees on Arsenal Street

One of the trees along Arsenal Street near the new apartment complex was ripped out of the ground recently when a tractor trailer struck it, and other trees in the area had to be trimmed to prevent further damage. Tree Warden Chris Hayward said the damage occurred in mid-June while Arsenal Street was being ripped up to remove old trolley tracks. “Because the center of the road was now closed, traffic had to be pushed to the outer edges of the roadway,” Hayward said. “Around 3 p.m. on Thursday June 16, a tractor trailer truck clipped a large leader that had not been pruned in advance of this new traffic pattern. That tree was literally ripped out of its planting location.”

Several Trees Along Arsenal Street Slated to be Removed

A hearing will be held this week about a string of trees along Arsenal Street that are on the list to be removed. Most of trees are on the north side of the street, and stretch between Lexus of Watertown and the new apartment complex being built on Arsenal Street. According to the Watertown Tree Warden Chris Hayward’s announcement, seven honeylocust trees at 222 Arsenal Street are scheduled to be removed to make way for the proposed bikeway. Another tree on the other side, at 191 Arsenal Street, is also slated to be removed to accommodate widening of the roadway. The Tree Warden will hold hearing will be held on Thursday, May 12 at 11:30 a.m. in the Lower Hearing Room of Town Hall, 149 Main St.