Last night, I had the opportunity to speak to the Union Square Neighborhood Council . I am deeply grateful and humbled that, having heard the story of the trees on Beacon Street, they have sent a letter to the Mayor and to the Board of Alderpeople, formally supporting our efforts to retain some of the mature trees along Beacon Street.
To the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen of the City of Somerville,
We are writing to in support of our neighbors who have put so much effort, energy, and emotion into saving the remaining trees on Beacon Street. We share their frustration with the community "process" around the removal of these trees, which seems to mirror so many processes in this city — an opportunity for city officials to listen without altering plans in any meaningful way based on public comment.
Note that mature trees are far more valuable than saplings, and it takes 20-40 years for a tree to provide the sheltering shade and ecosystem services that we rely on to keep our city livable. Though Somerville is a "tree city" according to the Arbor Day Foundation, recent events belie this designation's veracity.
We agree with our neighbors that that the rubber-stamp hearing for the last six trees on the street is a perfunctory afterthought to the unauthorized and unscheduled removal of 37 trees last October. It is a thin veneer of process for the final six out of nearly 100 trees sacrificed since work began in 2016.
This is a critical opportunity for the city to begin to rebuild trust with residents. We are asking you to act in the interest of the residents and the city itself, despite the fact that it may delay and additional expense.
We are asking you to preserve the remaining healthy trees.
There is another tree hearing scheduled for this coming Wed, May 2 – this one related to the removal of 37 mature trees along the southern end of Somerville Street. I encourage everyone who is interested in understanding and potentially improving this process to attend, to listen, and to be involved as early in the process as possible.
This public response is having an impact.
Direct phone calls to the Mayor’s office, combined with emails to both the Mayor and to the Board of Aldermen have changed the narrative. I learned yesterday that the construction crews have been instructed to hold off on both tree and curb removal until the city has had a chance to review the situation.
Please continue to share this page with your neighbors and to email and call. It is making a difference.