Land Trust replacing trees at Ball O’Brien Park

After they were mistakenly removed
Thu, 11/07/2019 - 5:45pm

Ball O’Brien Park will be home to 15 newly planted trees, which will be planted in the coming weeks.

Three years ago, 22 trees at the park were mistakenly taken down, surprising the Land Trust, which has jurisdiction over conservation easements at the park. A letter was sent to the New Shoreham Town Council from the Salt Pond Settlement Owners Association stating that large tree limbs were “touching the building” and need to be “trimmed or removed.” At the town’s behest the trees were removed. The Salt Pond Settlement is a condominium building that abuts the park.

During the Land Trust’s Nov. 10, 2016 meeting, Chair Barbara MacMullan said a contractor did the clearing, in violation of a zoning decision, within a 20-foot vegetative buffer along the stone wall on the western boundary next to the condominium building.

At its meeting on Monday night, the Town Council unanimously approved (5-0) replacing the trees at a cost of up to $12,000. Councilor Sven Risom made the motion that was seconded by Councilor Chris Willi. Finance Director Amy Land told The Times that the money would come from contingency funds in the town’s budget.

The Land Trust estimated that $6,000 will go toward the cost of the trees and materials, with $6,000 allocated for labor and materials. The town’s road crew would be responsible for watering the trees through next summer using the water provided by the town at the park.

In a memo to the Town Council, dated Oct. 17, 2019, the Land Trust stated that in the fall of 2016, “the town cut and cleared trees along the western boundary of the Ball O’Brien property in violation of the conservation easement on the property held by the Land Trust and the terms of the Planning Board Development Plan Review Decision.”

It also noted that per a discussion between the Town Manager and the Town Council at that time, the town agreed to pay for “replacement of the trees. This work was delayed because there was still active consideration of a harbors facility at that site, but since that is no longer the case, the Land Trust voted at” its Oct. 16, 2019 meeting to proceed with replacing the vegetation that was removed.

“We put this work off for a while and we want to get it done now,” said MacMullan, noting that the Land Trust was “comfortable with the $12,000” that is budgeted for the project.

Land Trust Stewardship Director Harold “Turtle” Hatfield, in attendance, said the fall is an ideal time to plant the trees at the park, so the Land Trust would like to proceed expeditiously.

In its memo, the Land Trust noted that of the 15 trees to be planted, three each would be from the following species: tulip poplar, sweet gum, clumping birch, kwanzan cherry, and October glory maple.

Town Manager Ed Roberge asked if the watering of the trees would be an “annual effort (by the town), or is it just for the first year?”c

“No,” said Hatfield. “I would like (for the town) to do it for the first year just to let them get established, especially in that location.”

First Warden Ken Lacoste summed up the Land Trust’s request. He said that the “town would be responsible for watering the trees” the first year, and the Land Trust would utilize the $12,000 for materials and labor. “This would be the cost of putting the trees in; getting them set up,” he said.

MacMullan and Hatfield said the budget includes all materials as well as stapling and installing deer fencing around the trees for protective measures.

“How big of an area are you talking about?” asked Councilor Martha Ball.

“It’s the north/south line — The 20-foot buffer east for the entire length of the Salt Pond Settlement” condominium building, said Hatfield.

“How many feet is that?” asked Ball.

Willi reiterated that it’s the length of the building, while Lacoste said that it’s probably about “300 feet.”

Second Warden André Boudreau asked the Land Trust what size trees they would be installing on the property.

Hatfield said the Land Trust would be installing 1.5-inch to 2-inch caliper trees at the park. A one-inch caliper tree equates to about eight-feet tall.

“Is this the right time to plant them?” asked Boudreau.

“This is a perfect time of year for planting them,” said Hatfield.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Risom said, “Thank you for correcting the problem.”