Removal of Bradford Pears Underway in Town Center

Bill O'Brien PhotoNineteen flowering Bradford pear trees along Main Street will fall to the axe starting today.  For the short time they’re in bloom each spring, they lent a picture postcard quality to the town, but time and recent storms have taken their toll on them. The process began this morning. Here is the scene at Main and Ivy.

Bill O'Brien PhotoThe trees are considered invasive and have only a 20- to 30-year life expectancy. They are quick growing and the limbs become more susceptible to breaking as they age. They were planted in the early 1990s as part of First Selectwoman Judy Gott’s Town Center Revitalization project.

Bill O'Brien PhotoSigns were affixed to the trees on April 11 indicating their removal in 10 days or more from the posting. Any questions regarding the removal were to be directed to Tree Warden Diana Ross.

Bill O'Brien PhotoWork got underway today at 6 a.m.

Bill O'Brien PhotoTrees will be removed starting at the corner of Ivy Street and Main, along Main up to Harrison Avenue. They’re in front of businesses such as Lockworks Square, North Light Gallery, Common Grounds, SoundRunner, and Epic.

A group of citizens have expressed concern over the removal citing the environmental benefit of shading the businesses and saving on energy costs. Another concern is the time of year, spring, when birds have built nests.

Laura Green, a resident, has contacted First Selectman Jamie Cosgrove and Ross requesting a public hearing. She was told it would be “a waste of time.” She believes there has been a lack of transparency in dealing with the issue and that people have not been made aware of the long-range plan. Is Green involved in any town board or commission?

Green acknowledges that the trees have become a nuisance and should have to come down, but she objects to them all being taken down at once. She believes that a phased-in removal of the trees would lessen the aesthetic and environmental impact and existing trees would ensure shade if the new ones failed to thrive.

She also cited the Migratory Bird Act, which prohibits cutting down trees with bird nests during nesting season.

According to Trista Milici, executive assistant to Cosgrove, “The trees have become a hazard and a liability due to their age. Many of these trees have already lost large limbs while others are in danger of losing limbs. All of the trees have been property posted and great consideration was given during the evaluation process to keep as many as possible. Replacement of the 19 trees will take place in approximately 3 weeks and additional trees will be planted in the fall.

“The removal and replacement of these trees has been a long range project involving grants, several boards and commissions, Tree Warden and other professionals including a landscape architect.”

A Plan Is In Place

Bill O'Brien PhotoAccording to Shirley McCarthy, a member of the Branford Community Forest Commission, the Bradford pears will be replaced by “a diverse range of trees that will benefit our New England ecosystem and the appearance of our ‘New England’ Green.” The majority of the replacements are native, except for a few crabapples, which can survive a “stressful” spot.

Species include swamp white oak, Black Gum, American hophornbeam, Pagoda Dogwood, American Beech, Yoshino Cherry, White Spruce, and Red Maple.

Bill O'Brien PhotoA detailed spreadsheet, obtained by The Eagle, lists the designated location of each tree. For instance, a swamp white oak will be planted in front of InFocus. And, crabapples will go in front of Pinky Nail and Epic Salon.

Bill O'Brien PhotoA crabapple will go in front of SoundRunner.

Bill O'Brien PhotoAn American hophornbeam will be planted in front of North Light Gallery.

Bill O'Brien PhotoA swamp white oak will be planted in front of Raveis Realty.

A crabapple will replace the Bradford pear at Main and Ivy.  (See top photo)

Bill O'Brien PhotoA total of 33 new trees will be planted, along with 20 shrubs in the rain garden at Fire Headquarters.

McCarthy offered the assurance that “if there happens to be a bird nest in any tree in Branford that is slated for cutting, our tree warden, if notified, will postpone its cutting until the babies have left the nest.”

Funding for the project has come from the Tree Warden’s budget, plus grants and donations.

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posted by: ctdesign on May 5, 2018  7:17pm

Hello,
My name is Ellen Prasinos. I live in Madison.
I was downtown Branford to day for a long-scheduled Dr. appt. I saw the cherry blossoms, in glorious full bloom, not a petal falling, despite a stiff breeze. After finding out that I did not have any terminal illness, I returned to the trees to take some pictures. As I sat there for hours, on a
Wednesday afternoon, more than a dozen people slowed down to take the perfect picture of the sakura blossoms.
I sat there a very long time. I heard a woman in the distance say, “They are going to cut them down.” I called her over to ask if she was talking about these trees. She was unsure. I began to cry. Not weep, cry, bawl, really. I felt that I had to apologize and I began blubbering. “I’m so
sorry, don’t want to make you feel bad, it’s not you, sorry, just a sec.” I calmed myself enough to say that my beloved younger sister died yesterday and when I had to come to an appt I could not cancel, I felt drawn to these amazing trees.
You see, Theresa and I were raised in Iwakuni, Japan, for a time, when we were little. Theresa learned Japanese before she spoke English. Every year we went to the cherry blossom festival along the river. We wore kimonos and obis and getas, and silk wisteria in our fake buns on our heads. Musicians playing shamisen and singing with the music of the water in the riverbed. It
was sublime.
A tree is not always just a tree. And millions don’t visitflowering cherry trees all over the world just because they are glorious when in full bloom. Things take on many meanings when the context changes. I hope that Branford’s town fathers always think about the context when making decisions for its citizens. I want them to always consider that a tree is not just a tree to all.
I feel very wise tonight, perhaps my sister is sitting by my side.
Ellen Rees Prasinos
Note: The pear trees on the North side of Main are the trees at issue. The Yoshino cherry trees are staying, for now.