Opinion: Tree Committee meeting a step in the right direction

Dec 23, 2023

To the editor:

Regarding the December 13 Tree Committee meeting, I want to thank Mike Lorenco and Jodi Bauer for their attendance and Sippican Week and The Wanderer for their coverage. At our meeting the loss of mature shade trees and financial impact of the project were discussed, among many other things. I hope that a future town public meeting will be held in the next month and recorded specifically to inform residents and taxpayers about the other issues impacting the Village Roads Project: utilities, tree removals and protection, harbor water quality protection plans, process, et cetera.
I understand the project was initiated back in 2013 and received widespread attention in 2017 and 2018 when VHB engineers were hired to lead the Town through a complicated and restrictive State DOT-TIP process. My research suggests that the last public meetings for the project were in 2018. We’ve missed an estimated 2022 construction timetable.  As Selectboard noted in their September 12, 2023 meeting, aspects of the proposal changed significantly in the 2023 round of DOT reviews. Therefore it will be a good thing for the residents to be given the broad picture of a DOT funded reconstruction project looking back and forward prior to the DOT hearing.

At DOT required public hearings residents are encouraged to state their pro/con opinions to help DOT decide if a specific project should go forward.  I understand a two week period follows a hearing so residents may send written opinion after hearing presentations.
The Town is at year 10 trying to get a competitive state grant which is estimated to be funded in 2026. Will that target date hold? Meanwhile we’ve already reconstructed 1.5 miles of Village roads using municipal bonds- while staying sensitive to Town character. 

In closing, the December Tree Committee meeting was a small step in the right direction. In the words of one of the citizens attending the meeting, “I had no idea that this project was moving forward again with important decisions being made during the recent Select Board meetings, so shame on me.” A public hearing in late January is a perfect time for many more citizens to learn about the current plans and understand the impact on the town we love, Mattapoisett.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year,

Sandra Hering
Chairperson, Mattapoisett Tree Committee