WALLINGFORD — The 28 trees on Quinnipiac Street partially cut down more than a month ago have yet to be completely removed or replaced.
Many of the Callery pear trees planted along downtown sidewalks have started blossoming. But there is a void between Washington Street and Route 5, where trees lining the street were cut down on March 27. Tree stumps a few feet tall remain.
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. previously said the trees would not be replaced by a new species, as Callery pear trees are less expensive than alternatives proposed by the Greening Committee. The committee was established last fall when the town announced plans to cut the trees down. The three local residents on the committee receive input from Wallingford Center Inc., a nonprofit with the goal of improving downtown.
Liz Landow, executive director of WCI, has said the town plans to replace 24 of the 28 trees. Landow could not be reached for comment Thursday, nor could Dickinson or Public Works Director Henry McCully, who serves as the town’s tree warden.
It’s unclear who will remove the stumps. As of Thursday morning, there was no bid notice listed for tree or stump removal.
“I have no clue what’s going on,” Town Councilor John LeTourneau said Thursday.
Town Council Vice Chairman Tom Laffin said he recently read discussion on one of the town’s Facebook forums that people are upset the tree stumps have not been removed.
“They have to be that tall so people see them and don’t trip,” Laffin said.
Laffin feels it would be inefficient to perform removal and replacement at once because of the equipment involved.
“I don’t know if it was planned to go on this long,” he said. “Of course I would have liked to see the process go faster, but I’m not upset.”
Town Councilor Christine Mansfield said she doesn’t have any additional information on when the trees will be replaced.
“It’s tough,” she said, “because curb appeal is important.”
The mayor is likely following a schedule, and there could be other things delaying the work, she said.
Mansfield said she is “very sympathetic” to those who hoped the town would plant a new species of flowering tree in downtown. But other species would cost more, she said.
“It’s a tough balancing act” between wants and needs, she said.
LeTourneau, who runs a Center Street business, said he has a different opinion of why the town went with the same tree species for replacement. He suspects the mayor never intended to listen to the committee’s recommendation and intended to replant Callery pears.
“The mayor was going to do this anyhow,” Letourneau said.
Dickinson has said the town will continue replacing downtown trees up Center Street and on portions of North and South Main streets as funding becomes available. The trees will be replaced every 15 years or so as they start to crack sidewalks and block windows and business signs.
The cost of tree removal and replacement on Quinnipiac Street was estimated at $15,000 by McCully last fall.
The town is replacing trees through a bid awarded to Pine Ridge Enterprises, of Wallingford, in 2012. The first and only purchase order through that bid was made in 2012 for $7,700, according to the Purchasing Department. Tree removal on Quinnipiac Street was conducted in March by Paradise Landscaping, of Stratford. The company was awarded a contract earlier this year through 2015 with the option for a two-year renewal. To date, the town has issued one purchase order to the company for $50,000, according to the Purchasing Department.
Paradise Landscaping is not under contract to remove the stumps that remain on Quinnipiac Street.