Opinion: Village road project has a way to go

Nov 20, 2023

To the editor:

I have been an active citizen participant in developing the Village Road Project for some time. There is yet a long way to go. However, a recent vote of the Mattapoisett Select Board to eliminate our heritage oak trees along Water Street seems very much like a step backward.

Trees and Sidewalks

I applaud that the roadway project is moving forward but remained concerned, for now, that it’s direction is misguided. Removing heritage oak trees along the heart of Mattapoisett’s picturesque waterfront fails all town citizens. The return on this environmental slaughter is a another concrete sidewalk. Instead of more concrete, how about we just use the sidewalk across the street and leave the trees to absorb greenhouse gases and provide shade, as well inspiration. The Town’s consultant VHB provided sidewalks along Water, Town Beach and Beacon Streets to save the trees, but an unfounded insistence by the Board deems street crosssings (zig zags) to be unsafe. We have safe crossings now at several points along these streets and they have proved to be safe for walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

Implement Measures to Promote Tree Longevity and Health

Trees along the roadway project were noted to be vulnerable to damage during road construction which requires digging and removing all material to a twenty inch depth. To date, VHB has not sufficiently addressed tree root,
trunk, or canopy protection from excavation. Tree protection in the 25% plan submission indicates no digging beneath the tree canopy, precisely where road construction will occur. We encourage the Town, VHB, and Mass Dept of Transportation to implement arboricultural best practices to insure longevity, and health of tree roots, trunks, and branches during construction. All trees along the road project are vulnerable and all should be supported to live long after the project is complete.

Michael Immel, Mattapoisett