NASHUA — A Board of Public Works commissioner is questioning why a formal vote was never taken on the removal of more than a dozen trees along Main Street.
"I think people were stunned with the trees," said Commissioner Tracy Pappas. She said a formal vote should have been made by the board on whether to cut down the mature trees for the downtown sidewalk project.
But Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she announced last year during a joint meeting between the Board of Public Works and the Board of Aldermen that the trees would need to come down because their roots were impacting the sidewalks and underground utilities.
Lozeau said that any of the commissioners could have made a motion about the trees — or any other project-related concern — at anytime.
Despite a petition by Alderman Dan Moriarty to save the remaining mature trees on Main Street, Lozeau said Tuesday that, "it can't be done."
Experts have been sought on the matter and it is impossible to cut away from a tree's root system and still have it survive, Lozeau said.
"I don't like it either," she said.
Still, Pappas says that some of the trees probably could have been saved.
Lozeau defended the city's reasoning for cutting down the more than a dozen trees earlier this year. She said landscape architects and engineers were consulted, and a team of people have been involved in the project.
Even though some of the trees may look healthy from a distance, up close it tells a different story, said the mayor.
"It wasn't just surface damage," she said.
Some of the trees were diseased with weak spots and at the end of their life cycle, she said.
It would have been disingenuous to hold a public meeting and get input from residents who don't want the trees to be cut down when that really wasn't an option, said Lozeau.
Many of the problematic tree roots have been photographed, and Lozeau said she is in the process of making those pictures public so that the citizens can fully understand the extent of damage that was occurring underneath the sidewalks.
Commissioner Timothy Lavoie said it is time to move away from the tree dispute and continue on with the downtown sidewalk renovations.
"You need to finish the project — get it done. Let the trees mature," he said of the new trees that are being planted to replace those that have already been cut down, and those that still need to be removed.
It would look awkward to leave some of the mature trees while smaller, newer trees have already been planted in the sections that are finished with their renovations, said Lavoie.
Lozeau said Nashua is a tree city, USA, and an average of 200 trees are planted each year in the Gate City.
The new trees that were planted last year look "amazing," said the mayor, She also praised the planting beds that were built to bring additional greenery to the downtown area.