The "Bradford 5" came down early Oct. 4 in a fog so thick you almost couldn't see the spaces left by the five pear trees that have stood on Main Street since the 1960s.
The removal of the trees was met with some public dissent, including an appeal filed against the town on Sept. 25 in Stamford by resident Andrea Sandor, who also originated the moniker "Bradford 5" at the public hearing. Sandor declined to comment for this article.
Tree Warden Bruce Pauley said he conferred with Town Counsel Ira Bloom, who said as long as the state gave its approval, the removal was legal.
"She attempted to file an appeal of the hearing of the decision of the tree warden on the tree removal. This does not legally prevent warden from taking action if [Pauley] feels there's a need to do it on safety concerns," Bloom said in an interview, adding, "The state has jurisdiction on that road and consequently its up to state tree officials and they gave permission to warden to take action if he believed it was warranted."
Main Street, or Route 124, is a state road. Pauley said the state Department of Transportation told him to carry on with the tree removal.
"Listen, I love trees and Bradford pear trees are very nice when they're in blossom," Pauley said. "Certain trees require certain habitats. Bradford pears work well on private property or in parks, where it doesn't matter so much if branches fall occasionally, but they have to be pruned before they get too large. You can't take trees like the ones here which are grown way outsized and think you can prune them back without some consequences, decay, root problems.
"Any tree is a balance between root area and leaf area. And meanwhile you're looking at ugly trees, and who wants that? The last 10 years have been a bad situation with the Bradford pears, the trees that will replace them will be perfect for that situation," Pauley said in an interview.
Pauley noted on previous occasions, such as the Aug. 8 public hearing over the tree removal, that the trees presented a safety problem. Their "deep-v crotches" mean the branches must hold up more weight than a tree whose branches diverge from the trunk higher up. As the trees reach old age, the branches are less likely to hold up their own weight, and can break from the trunk and potentially hit pedestrians or parked cars, which has happened on Main Street in the last year. Such is the worry Pauley had for the trees going forward, and comprises his reason for their removal.
New trees were planted Monday morning, including three fastigiate English oaks. The other two are male Chinese Ginkgos; the females produces a foul smelling fruit.
It's the end of an era for five fine trees. The new trees will not be as big, and may not be as regal as the Bradford 5. But Pauley said they will hold Christmas lights just fine.
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