Ancient Trees On Rt 6A To Be Spared From Chain Saw
By: James Kinsella
Within a month, fewer trees are likely to line tree-lined Route 6A in West Barnstable and Barnstable Village.
But a few more trees originally slated for the chain saw will be allowed to remain, thanks to a cooperative effort between the state and an informal committee.
Matthew Broderick, a maintenance operations engineer with the Massachusetts Highway Department, came before the town’s Old King’s Highway Historic District Committee on Wednesday night to get permission to cut dead, diseased, damaged or otherwise dangerous trees along Route 6A in the town.
The winding two-lane highway forms the spine of the historic district.
The district committee took up the issue during its meeting Wednesday at the West Barnstable Community Center.MassHighway originally had proposed cutting 44 trees, many of them ancient, in Barnstable Village and West Barnstable.
That is when the Route 6A Committee, an ad hoc group devoted to the historic road, stepped in to review the state’s proposal.
After conducting its own survey of the targeted trees, the committee agreed with most of the state’s choices, but recommended saving at least seven of the trees.
The committee further said an eighth tree, possibly posing a sight hazard near Maple Street in West Barnstable, should be allowed to remain standing for now.
The committee said the tree might no longer pose a sight hazard to drivers when another tree near Maple Street, this one unquestionably posing a sight hazard, is taken down.
Several private property owners along Route 6A, learning of the state project, notified the committee that they would allow the state to take down dead or diseased trees on their property along the road.
Mr. Broderick said he understood the reluctance of people to see trees cut along the road, but said the state had a responsibility to ensure safety for those passing under the trees.
“I know there’s a lot of history, I know there’s a lot of aesthetics,” he told the committee. “…It’s hard to take the trees down. It’s hard to leave them up, and have something happen.”
The committee proceeded to vote 3-0 to issue the state a certificate of appropriateness to cut down 36 of the trees, protecting the eight specified by the Route 6A committee.
The committee also stipulated that the trunks be cut to the ground.If no appeals are filed in the 14 days following the meeting, the state will be allowed to cut all 36 trees.
Outside the meeting room following the vote, Mr. Broderick said the state, working through a tree contractor, plans to cut the trees as soon as possible.
He said he would have liked to haved started the project a month earlier.
The tree cutting will cause traffic delays along Route 6A, Mr. Broderick said. As such, the state wants to complete the work in the off-season while traffic is down along the highway, the main road on Barnstable’s north side.
Attending Wednesday’s meeting was Ann B. Canedy of Cummaquid, a Barnstable town councilor and a member of the Route 6A Committee.
Ms. Canedy said she had arranged with the state’s tree contractor to supply the best wood from the trees to the Cape Cod Wood Carvers and Turners Guild.
She said she wants to work with Mark S. Ells, director of public works for the town, to make the more problematic wood, such as that containing knots and other defects, available in some way to Barnstable residents.
Patricia Anderson, acting chairman of the historic district committee, told Mr. Broderick during the meeting that the committee wanted to see trees planted to replace those cut down.
Mr. Broderick replied that MassHighway does not get funding for such endeavors. He recommended the committee try elsewhere in state government.
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