Dead tree must go, Tisbury tells state highway officials

This large dead tree overhangs State Road by Main Street in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Hurricane season is on, so the question of when, not if, a dead tree on State Road in Vineyard Haven falls or is blown down has Tisbury town officials and nearby property owners vexed.

The Times asked Tom Robinson, a tree expert who is the owner of Island Timber, about the tree’s prognosis.

“I think it will come down sometime soon, maybe in pieces,” said Mr. Robinson, who also serves as chairman of the Tisbury conservation commission. “As far as a hazardous tree goes, that’s probably one of the more important ones to consider removing in a timely manner.”

Tisbury department of public works director Fred LaPiana said the tree’s removal is under the Massachusetts Highway Division’s jurisdiction, because it overhangs a state road and is on the highway department’s overlay. It is located near the intersection of Vineyard Haven’s Main Street.

Mr. LaPiana said the town has talked to state officials about the tree. Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Highway District Five office in Taunton oversees maintenance of state roads and properties on Martha’s Vineyard.

“The tree has to come down before a big storm does it in,” Mr. LaPiana said.

Although its branches are bare, the tree, about 45-feet tall and partly covered by vines, still sports a vestige of green. Joe Grillo, who owns one of the properties the tree straddles, said it began dying four to five years ago.

“My suspicion is when the town ran the sewer line, someone may have cut a major root,” he said.

Mr. Grillo said he had hoped the tree would be removed over the winter, before summer traffic would affect scheduling the work and hurricane season started.

“Even if someone got part of it down now, it would be a help,” Mr. Grillo said.