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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nashua alderman proposes tree oversight committee

Trees planted in Nashua’s public spaces have been the subject of controversy in recent years, but one alderman is offering a proposal that could help quell discord by introducing a new level of oversight.

Alderman-at-Large Diane Sheehan proposed forming a committee to help guide the management of Nashua’s trees. The ad hoc committee would consist of three aldermen, at least one of whom also would be assigned to the Planning and Economic Development Committee. Another would sit on the Committee on Infrastructure. Commissioners of the Board of Public Works and Conservation Commission also would be invited to participate. ...

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Trees planted in Nashua’s public spaces have been the subject of controversy in recent years, but one alderman is offering a proposal that could help quell discord by introducing a new level of oversight.

Alderman-at-Large Diane Sheehan proposed forming a committee to help guide the management of Nashua’s trees. The ad hoc committee would consist of three aldermen, at least one of whom also would be assigned to the Planning and Economic Development Committee. Another would sit on the Committee on Infrastructure. Commissioners of the Board of Public Works and Conservation Commission also would be invited to participate.

The committee would make recommendations to the BPW regarding trees on public lands and other issues.

A resolution proposing the committee notes communities increasingly recognize the benefits of trees, such as reducing air and noise pollution, furnishing habitat for wildlife, and enhancing aesthetics and property values.

The committee would try to protect and enhance the city’s trees by guiding a comprehensive policy. The guidelines would touch upon topics such as planting, removal from public property and protection for native trees or trees with historical significance.

The removal of some trees planted in Nashua’s downtown sidewalks drew criticism from a number of residents and some aldermen last year. Currently, Nashua’s city charter gives the Board of Public Works full control over planting and care of the shade and ornamental trees in streets and public ways. Maintenance duties are carried out by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Nashua was recently named a 2013 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation, earning the designation for the 15th time. The program recognizes urban forest management work during the previous calendar year.

– JIM HADDADIN