A recent tour of the renovation of Greenough Boulevard brought up some concerns for advocates for trees and the environment.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation teamed with the Solomon Foundation to install a new, wider bicycle and pedestrian path, and reduce the width of the roadway from Arsenal Street to Cambridge, near the Eliot Bridge and Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School (BB&N).
The Solomon Foundation provided $500,000 to help make the Greenough Greednway improvements a reality along with $700,000 in public funds. Herb Nolan, deputy director of the Solomon Foundation, said the work is beginning to shape up well.
“I am very excited about this,” Nolan said. “Looking at the scale of the space (of the path) compared to what was here before is a breath of fresh air. This will be one of the best walking/running loop in the Boston area.”
Installing the new path required removing seven trees in Watertown and eight in Cambridge, said DCR Director of Recreation Facility Planning and Design Dan Driscoll. The project will add 163 trees between the path and the the roadway, he added.
Watertown tree advocates worried that other trees will be lost because their roots were damages, or large branches were pruned while the path was installed.
Libby Shaw of Trees for Watertown said some trees close to the path had their roots severely cut back and the roots were not property cut, but rather were ripped off.
In a few other cases, the trunks of trees were damaged by construction equipment, Watertown resident Maureen O’Sullivan asked why the trees were not wrapped with with a protective cover.
In one area where there is a stand of pine trees, construction vehicles were parked on top of roots.
After the tour, State Rep. Jonathan Hecht said he had been in touch with DCR and some changes have been made.
“The equipment has been moved back from the trees and snow fences have been put up to prevent accidental damage to trunks or limbs and avoid further compaction of the soil over the roots,” Hecht said in an email to those on the tour. “We explored with DCR and the Cambridge Con Comm the possibility of moving the equipment further away – to the east where the road was taken up and new soil put down – but that area is likely to be dug up again soon for Eversource to work on the lighting.”
He added that the DCR will look for ways to feed and strengthen the trees closer to the Eliot Bridge which had their roots cut.
Driscoll said while the Solomon Foundation donation helped the project get built, it is did not cover everything the DCR would like to do. Some possible additions to the project include repaving the roadway and more landscaping. This might be possible if the DCR has money left over from other projects, Driscoll said.