Waterville OKs deal to remove hazardous trees

Council: Silver maples rotten, fragile


Waterville city council has approved a contract to remove six trees along Canal Road that officials say are hazards both to motorists and to power lines.

The $10,015 contract with Batanian Tree Service Inc. of Sylvania includes trimming six other trees nearby along Canal.

The six to be removed are all silver maples that have become rotten and fragile, officials said after council awarded the contract last week. “They’re in bad shape,” councilman Jeff Marty said. “I’m something of a tree hugger, but these trees have to go.”

“There’s a reason we don’t let people plant silver maples as street trees any more,” city Administrator Jim Bagdonas said: they grow fast and they’re pretty, but they don’t age well.

The contract will exhaust 65 percent of Waterville’s tree maintenance budget, but is necessary because the proximity of power lines makes it too complex a job for the city’s public-works crew to tackle. The tree removal will begin later this week.

Councilman Ann Cherry, previously a member of Waterville’s tree commission, said the city has “good staff, but we lost our trained arborist” and the trees have not been well maintained since then.

Kenny Blair, the city’s public works director, said he had received a few calls from residents about the tree work after those slated for removal were spray-painted in white with the letter ‘R’ — those to be trimmed got a ‘T.’

A large limb recently fell from one of them, grazing high-voltage power lines along the street that “tripped half the city,” Mr. Blair said.

“We have a real liability there,” he said. “It wasn’t even windy out.”

Councilman Barb Bruno proposed that the city take the firewood and sell it, the way the local board of education did during a recent tree removal project at a school, rather than pay the contractor to haul it away.

But colleague Jim Valtin said the city’s cost to split and market the wood might be more than it would sell for, and noted that the contract gives property owners near the trees first dibs on the wood.