BERLIN — The removal of tree stumps on town property along the banks of roads and sidewalks could begin in the spring if money can be saved throughout the rest of the year, according to a presentation by Public Works Director Michael Ahern to the Town Council earlier this month.
With an estimated average cost of $500 to remove each of the approximately 75 stumps he has identified, Ahern said the number that could be grinded down this spring, if any, is entirely dependant on how much money might be left as the end of the fiscal year nears, though road repairs would take priority.
"If we have paving work to do or drainage work to do, I'd rather, for obvious reasons, pave a road than take out 20 stumps. Or fix a broken drain line,” he said.
In future years, Ahern suggested that increasing his department’s annual allocation for tree removal by around $5,000 would allow them to set aside money to chip away at the number of stumps around town over the course of a few years. He also suggested that utilizing contractors would be more cost effective to the town than purchasing grinding machinery and having already busy public works staff conduct the work.
Most of the stumps marked for eventual removal are in the historic district centered around Worthington Ridge. Former mayor and Worthington Ridge resident Arthur Powers first broached the issue in the spring after a large number of trees along the road were removed by Eversource Energy as part of their annual tree culling.
While he said he couldn’t blame the utility company for trying to reduce outages by removing trees which could damage lines during inclement weather, he said the number of stumps left behind created an eyesore in the historic district.
"I don't intend to push Worthington Ridge over the others. They are a historic district and obviously the historic district people would like to get the stumps out, but I would like to see that this is a project for the whole community," he said.
The next step Powers would like to see the town take is to plant new trees to replace those that were felled to replace the thick canopy he said the street was once known for.
"I think we should have an arborist ... planting trees to replace many of those that have been taken down and have the arborist, of course, recommend trees that will not grow up into the wires,” he said.