West Tisbury selectmen on Wednesday approved a plan to start removing a number of dead trees around town, some of which are hanging over well-traveled roads and pathways and raising concerns about public safety.
Tree warden Jeremiah Brown told selectmen that an estimated 300 trees directly abutting public roads are threatening to drop their branches or fall over. He said approximately 30 of the trees need immediate removal. “Some of these need to be dealt with now . . . we cannot wait,” Mr. Brown said.
Before the meeting, selectman Richard Knabel said he has been keeping tabs on the recent proliferation of dead trees around town. “It might be the residual effects of the caterpillars or it could be a tree disease, I’m not sure. I do know we have more dead trees in town than normal,” he said.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Mr. Knabel underscored the need to address the problem. “I think there is a level of urgency here,” he said.
“I agree,” said Mr. Brown. “We don’t want one of these trees falling and beaning someone in the head.”
Mr. Brown said the annual budget for removing dead trees and planting new ones is around $5,000. He estimated it will cost upwards of $60,000 to remove all the problem trees, but said removing the 30 trees that are an immediate problem should cost only around $6,000.
Selectmen agreed to move forward with the plan, and Mr. Brown said he will mark trees that need trimming or outright removal. He also said he would solicit bids from companies willing to remove the trees and return to selectmen with the information.