Dear fellow Watertown citizens:
The recent removal of multiple mature trees on Olcott Street raises significant issues about the proper balance of public and private interests here in Watertown. While a private landowner has a right to dispose of trees as they see fit, Watertown must recognize that the benefits of mature trees extend beyond the lot they sit on and are an asset to the community as a whole. Watertown is expending considerable resources to combat climate change and improve the community’s quality of life. Major investments have been made in street trees and in enhanced storm drainage systems designed to protect the city from climate-related extreme storms. Yet these efforts cannot succeed if they are at odds with actions on private land where 80 percent of the city’s tree canopy sits. The rights of private landowners are fundamental to our system.