Update: What Happened to the Trees on Quimby Street?
Two large trees were cut down near Scott's Shoes and Robert Treat Deli.
* Note: The story has been updated to include comments, in the final paragraphs, from Sherry Cronin made Friday morning.
Despite the fact that Westfield prides itself on its tree-lined streets, Quimby Street lost two of its two-to-three-foot wide trees recently.
The receptionist at the Westfield Department of Public Works said the trees were cut down because the building owner wants to make repairs to the sidewalks.
Westfield resident Jeff Janota, who works as a town planner for an engineering and environmental consulting firm, said he was upset to see Quimby Street without its green canopy.
"(New trees will take) at least 50 years to grow back (to equal the size of those that were removed)," Janota said. "If the trees were dead or had the potential to cause harm to pedestrians and there were no way to save them according to an arborist or tree expert, then I understand. However, the town should have a tree ordinance that establishes criteria and standards for tree removal and maintenance. Trees can be a maintenance issue but they are also what sets Westfield apart from other towns."
Click here to view the Town's current tree removal permit as per General Ordinance No. 1806, adopted Sept. 10, 2002.
Janota said this is merely a permit and "not enough" especially when compared with ordinances other towns have in place.
The DPW's receptionist could not say if the trees were dead or a danger to pedestrians nor could she say if the building owner intends to plant new trees once the sidewalk work is completed. Two calls to DPW Supervisor Claude Shaffer for additional information were not returned.
Sherry Cronin, executive director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation, which oversees the maintenance and streetscape of the downtown, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Friday morning Cronin said while it is sad to see the current "streetscaping look so different," she understands why the trees needed to be removed.
Cronin said she spoke with the DPW's Shaffer who said the building's owner is going to have "major underground electrical work" done. Cronin also said the owner said someone recently fell as a result of the sidewalk popping up from the tree's roots.
Earlier this season, a tree was removed on Quimby Street near Brick Oven following a pedestrian fall.
"The trees can be problematic for business owners," Cronin said. "If someone falls, they're sued even though it's a town tree."
The Town of Westfield will take care of the stump grinding as well as the planting of the new trees, she added.
Two of the trees are likely to be replaced though, Cronin noted, it might not be any time soon because of the impending heat of the summer. The third will not be replaced as its location is too close to a utility pole.
"It's going to look a little bare there for a while, unfortunately," said Cronin.