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

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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. If Cambridge believes that its main is in danger then we should demand that they first undertake a study that will help inform its decision-making process in order to evaluate the severity of the situation. Cutting down the trees first, trees that are irreplaceable, without proper evidence is a travesty that us, the residents of Watertown (and not of Cambridge!) will pay for generations to come: my children live nearby and we often walk along this well-shaded path in the summer and enjoy the serenity. I am saddened that this opportunity is being torn away from us without proper consent.

I entreat you to take immediate action, whether legal, political, or otherwise, to demand that Cambridge cease removal of the remaining trees immediately. Our community demands it of you!


David Meshoulam, PhD
Oliver Street

4 thoughts on “LETTER: Resident Disappointed by How Decision to Remove Trees Was Made

  1. as a person who depends on sunscreen and unpolluted air I do feel a great loss with every green space/canopy that disappears. but I also try to understand what property and property rights mean. it happens that I came across literature describing good neighbor rights and relations and so frequent was there written about mediation and discussion that the actual before-the-court cases described went into background. I also remembered the stories at the time of the residential design guidelines….

  2. I agree with the letter writer wholeheartedly. I cannot imagine that there is nothing that can be done, despite ownership of the property by Cambridge. There will be situations where Cambridge will need the cooperation of the Town of Watertown. Thus it is in their interest to keep relations amicable. That is our bargaining power. It seems that there is no will and desire on the part of the town to do anything to remedy this problem, despite residents concerns.

  3. My reaction hearing of the tree situation two weeks ago was similar to that of the other writers here. So, I got in touch with the town and talked to our tree warden then I talked to the Cambridge Watershed manager, responsible for the pipes running from the Waltham reservoir to Fresh Pond. My first question was, of course: If the pipe is deep, what is the issue? What I discovered from both people was that the pipes are not that deep in many places and that roots have entered the pipes in several places, and that, in compacted land, roots will travel far and struggle to find moisture and nutrients. The decision was not pro-forma.
    It was a communications disaster. The strip of land over the pipe was neglected long enough for big trees to grow. When Cambridge woke up to the problem they did talk to Watertown a while back (maybe last year, I don’t remember) but then nothing was heard from them until the sudden announcement that they were starting work. They should have warned Watertown earlier or delayed their work so the situation could be explained. Which didn’t happen. But, this is about water supply which cannot be changed. Cambridge owns the land. The strip is not a right-of-way. So to say that there is no concern for residents on the part of the City of Watertown is inaccurate.
    I will add that Watertown Square needs more parking and the logical place for it is behind CVS. However, the Cambridge water pipe goes right across that area creating an engineering nightmare.
    We’re dealing with a problem created by our ancestors!

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