May 2: Tree Hearings for Union Square and Prospect Hill

This coming Wednesday there are two back-to-back tree hearings at the Public Safety building at 220 Washington, starting at 5:30pm.

The situation in Union Square and Prospect Hill is very different from what we experienced on Beacon Street. These plans are online well in advance of the work to be done and community outreach is happening prior to the removal of any trees. In addition, the plans do not call for a clear cut of an entire street, which makes it much easier to have a conversation about why some particular trees needed to be sacrificed while sparing others.

On Beacon Street, by the time we had a “hearing,” 90+ out of 100 of our trees were already gone. At the hearing we were told that it was too late to make any substantial changes to the plans.

While these two projects are certainly much better than a surprise clear-cut, I encourage everyone with the time and the energy to familiarize yourself with the proposals and to attend the meetings if you can.

Plans and presentations for the work in Union Square.

  • 37 trees will be removed. They range from 3″ up to 18″ in diameter. A total of 362 “tree inches” (a rough measure of biomass and maturity) will be removed.
  • 15 of the removals are listed as being in poor health. The others conflict with aspects of the plan.
  • 40 trees will be retained.
  • 51 new trees will be planted. Assuming that these new trees are the 2″ saplings that are standard for Somerville plantings, this will be a total of 102 inches of diameter, a loss of 260 “tree inches.”
  • Assuming that trees take between 2 and 4 years to add an inch of diameter, those 51 trees will need to grow for between 10 and 20 years to make up the biomass that is being lost.
  • Based on the experience on Somerville Ave, we can expect many of these plantings to die in their first few years of life.
  • The artists renderings in the slides show trees that are at least 10 years old.

Plans for the Prospect Hill removal

  • 43 trees will be removed, many of which seem to be in poor health or dead already.
  • 47 trees will be retained.
  • These plans are much less detailed about what trees will be planted, and where.
  • The photographs of the species to be planted show spectacular trees that are at least 60 years old.

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