Tree Removal Plan Withdrawn

A budding controversy was nipped in the bud on Monday, as the Marion Tree and Parks Committee reversed course on a proposal to remove trees from the Town House grounds.

A June 12 email from Tree and Parks Committee Chairman Margie Baldwin had asked the Board of Selectmen to consider cutting down two maple trees that were, in the Committee’s estimation, restricting potential growth for replanting flower beds on the grounds. There were also questions pertaining to the trees’ health, but no conclusive studies had been conducted.

Some town residents responded in a flurry of emails, letters and phone calls to the Selectmen, the Tree and Parks Committee and local media.

The “maples are not in trouble other than waiting for an untimely and unnecessary death for the sake of a garden,” wrote Sue Maxwell Lewis in a letter to the Selectmen. “Please stop and think this through.”

The tree removal would have required a public hearing; a fact that Baldwin said has been lost in the exchange.

“We weren’t making a unilateral decision by any stretch of the imagination,” Baldwin said. “We were asking for input from the Selectmen, and that didn’t happen. The email was read at their last meeting – apparently this is the policy – and I had no idea about this, nor was I asked to attend.”

Selectmen Chairman Steve Cushing said at the meeting that any decision should wait for public input. Upon receiving a good deal of it, Selectman Jody Dickerson confirmed that he “had been informed by the Tree and Parks Committee that they are not moving forward,” according to Board Secretary Debbie Paiva.

“I’m happy,” said resident Annie Rockwell, who had objected to the removal. “The trees did nothing wrong. Cutting down trees is not what a Tree Committee is supposed to do. Public input is what the Selectmen asked for, and that’s what they got. I hope they don’t revisit this in the future.”

Baldwin said that the issue had been misconstrued, and readily accepted its resolution.

“I understand people are sensitive about trees,” she said. “God knows I am. We’ve done a lot for the town, and for us to be painted as villains isn’t fair. I feel badly that it got out of hand, and the trees aren’t going anywhere.”

The next Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for July 9.

By Shawn Badgley

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