Town Hires Familiar Face For Tree Warden Position
By: JAMES KINSELLA, August 22, 2014
Sandwich’s trees once again have a warden.
After a gap of two years, the town has hired Justin M. O’Connor of West Barnstable for the job.
Mr. O’Connor, who will be paid $57,000, started work July 21.
The Sandwich position represents a return of sorts for Mr. O’Connor, who most recently worked as a project manager for Joyce Landscaping in Marstons Mills.
From 1991 to 1993, Mr. O’Connor worked as a college intern for the town’s then-tree warden, R. Patrick Ellis. Mr. Ellis currently serves on the town’s board of selectmen.
In 1994, Mr. O’Connor received a bachelor’s degree in urban forestry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Mr. O’Connor’s predecessor as tree warden, Kevin Buckland, left the post in July 2012, according to Marie L. Buckner, the town’s director of human resources.
Town manager George H. Dunham said Wednesday, August 20, that the town did not fill the slot in the interim, due to consideration of restructuring at the town department of public works.
During the interim, Mr. Dunham said, the town brought in private contractors and also brought back Mr. Ellis as needed to address necessary tree work.
With just a month on the job, Mr. O’Connor will step into the public spotlight at 7 PM Monday, August 25 when he conducts a public hearing at the Human Services Building at 270 Quaker Meetinghouse Road.
The hearing concerns a request by Colonial Gas Company, doing business as National Grid, to remove shade trees in a 10- to 15-foot strip just north of the Service Road between Route 130 and Chase Road. The stretch covers more than four miles.
On August 14, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board gave National Grid permission to install a natural gas pipeline in the strip along the road.
The company has proposed cutting trees in the strip as a prelude to the installation of the pipeline.
On August 20, Mr. Dunham said that the filling of the position last month and the timing of the hearing are coincidental.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, August 20, Mr. O’Connor, who will report to the assistant director of public works, said that his short-term goals include renewed attention to tree growth along sidewalks and in the town’s parks.
“I want to get them looking good again,” Mr. O’Connor said.
A longer-term goal is to once again qualify Sandwich as a “Tree City USA,” which Mr. O’Connor said can help the town obtain grants to plant and care for trees.