To the Editor:
This week Councilor Angie Kounelis brought to Watertown’s official attention the terrible condition of brand new landscaping in the East End CVS parking lot. Trees for Watertown asks Watertown citizens to join in demanding a strong municipal response.
The landscaping plan in the CVS parking lot was approved by the Planning Board and Planning Department. But what Watertown approved was a pretty picture, not a functional plan, and Watertown is now reaping the ugly consequences.
1. All 21 arbor vitae saplings planted in the parking lot are dead or dying.
2. The three red maple trees planted in the parking lot are badly planted. Each shows one or more of the following planting issues which compromise the health of the tree.
- The root ball is encased in rock-hard clay soil.
- The tree is planted askew.
- The root ball is planted too deep.
- The trunk base is buried in mulch.
3. The sycamore tree planted on Wells Avenue is of unacceptable structural quality. It should be replaced and the replacement tree correctly planted.
4. Yew bushes are inappropriately planted between the public shade trees on Wells Avenue. The yews will increasingly compete for soil and nutrients in that confined soil volume, compromising the health of these public shade trees. Everything should be done to support the health of these trees, which are an important environmental screen for neighboring Wells Avenue homes.
The following fundamentals of urban landscaping are well understood by competent landscape designers and landscape maintenance companies.
- Proper planting technique for long term tree health
- The importance of keeping new plantings well watered
- The importance of ensuring adequate soil volume for tree root systems
- The importance of adequate water supply for plantings surrounded by hardscape
Yet rather than the environmental enhancement promised by CVS developers, we’re seeing another blighted parking lot. Why did Watertown allow this to happen?
This situation can be fixed: Trees can be competently replanted. The yew bushes can be removed. The parking lot landscaping can be responsibly watered and cared for.
However replanting can’t and shouldn’t happen right away – it would be far better for the health of the trees to wait to replant until after the heat of summer. Meanwhile the parking lot remains a blight on the neighborhood and a season of green improvement for the local environment has been squandered needlessly.
Sound planting design, optimal planting technique and responsible maintenance of greenscape should be a requirement for development approval in Watertown, and municipal oversight is vital. We appreciate that Watertown is moving in this direction, but the situation at the East End CVS is an obvious indication of failed process.
Please ask Watertown to improve the quality of municipal oversight so that the CVS landscaping failures are corrected and so that new developments coming up for approval actually do provide the long-lasting environmental improvements and beautification their developers promise. We need healthy shade trees!
A good place to start is by writing your Town Councilor. Town Councilor contact information is listed on the Watertown website at http://www.ci.watertown.ma.us/Directory.aspx?DID=89. If you’re not sure who your councilor is, a voting precinct map is available at http://www.watertown-ma.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/4152.
on behalf of Trees for Watertown