Updated June 22
Residents of Woodside Village, an Island Elderly Housing complex behind the YMCA, are trying to stop a Norway fir planted as a memorial from being cut down by management. In a June 19 petition, over three dozen residents argue the tree, which they say was planted in 1997 in memory of Gladys Caron, should be retained.
Island Elderly Housing executive director Dorothy Young said she remembers when the tree was planted in 1997, three years after the building nearby was erected. She said the tree is in an area slated for a new handicap walkway, and must be taken down to make way for it. She said residents were informed of the plan to remove the tree in the June edition of the housing newsletter, Village Voice.
Island Elderly Housing maintenance director Greg Monka said the exposed roots of the tree pose a trip hazard, and also threaten a nearby leach field. After the tree is removed, more modest plantings will be installed along with the walkway, he said. Monka also noted Bob Hagerty of Hagerty Tree told him the tree should come down.
On behalf of Bob Hagerty, Grace Hagerty said Bob said no such thing. “He never suggested to take it down, ever,” she said. Hagerty said Hagerty Tree was told the tree must be removed for reasons related to the walkway and the septic system. She said Monka called multiple times, indicating the tree needs to be removed.
Bob Hagerty’s alleged position on the tree was published in the Village Voice.
“Bob Hagerty, a Massachusetts certified arborist, look[ed] at the tree and determined that it really should be taken down,” the newsletter states.
Grace Hagerty said Hagerty Tree cannot control what Island Elderly Housing publishes.
She also said they nearly came to do the job, but were called off. “We were on our way there [Thursday],” she said Friday morning. She said they got a call from folks at Island Elderly Housing, indicating residents were upset and to hold off for now.
“We don’t want to upset anybody,” Hagerty said. “We’ll put it on hold for now.”
Monka said it was his recollection Hagerty said the tree should come down when he came to give an estimate in late winter. He thought it was also reflected in his notes, but could not locate such an entry. He said he has tapped another arborist to evaluate the tree.
Young said the next plantings will make up for the loss of the tree, and serve as a remembrance for Caron, who, she said, also has a plaque in the building, on a wall tablet. She said the tree blocks the way to the community vegetable garden, which just got a major fence renovation from board member Cole Powers. She said she expects the new walkway will make the path to the community vegetable garden a much safer walk.
The petitioners say the tree isn’t hampering the leach field, and that its roots suck up excess moisture. They demand a democratic vote to decide the fate of the tree.
It’s unclear whether management will accede to such a vote, or just take down the tree. Simone DeSorcy, chair of the IEH board, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Stephen (“Lens”) Blodgett, a Woodside resident, who started the petition, said some topsoil will cover the exposed roots, and he claimed another septic servicer said the tree isn’t a threat to the leach field; the leach field is a threat to itself because it’s old. He said the tree was enjoyed by a lot of people, and should stay.
Updated to clarify the position of Hagerty and to add more information. –Ed.