Hingham’s Shade Tree Committee is hoping to change the landscape of some parts of town with a plan to replace dozens of ornamental trees with larger, shade trees on Main Street and in Jackass Park.
Selectmen approved the transplanting of 16 trees on Main Street at their meeting this past week, a plan that will change the cherry, crabapple, pear and hawthorne trees this fall and next spring with tall, deciduous species with rounded crowns.
The committee also hopes to replace 10 more trees in the fall of 2012 or the spring of 2013 to finish off the Main Street project.
It’s a design that will restore the shade tree canopy on Main Street that existed 40 years ago, said Shirley Rydell, chairwoman of the Shade Tree Committee.
According to Rydell, during the past few decades, many of Main Street’s shade trees, mostly Elms, died and were replaced with ornamental flowering trees from Queen Anne Corner to Cold Corner.
Selectmen said they would vote on the replacement of the additional 10 trees when they get closer to fall 2012, and in the meantime would phase in the planting of the first 16 trees.
Although progress was made on the committee’s Main Street project, Selectmen said they would have to work out the funding for the beautification of Jackass Park before that project could begin.
According to Rydell, the plan calls for the large maple trees and the two pink dogwood trees to remain until they naturally die, while new maple trees will be added to the west side of the park to add to the backdrop of the island.
In addition, two perennial flower and shrub beds will be added to each end of the park, replacing an “overgrown” arbor vitae in one spot.
Other trees will be added inside the park, as five ornamental trees are to be removed and transplanted elsewhere in town.
Officials seemed excited for the plans, with Selectman Chairman John Riley saying that this initiative was “transforming our islands into works of beauty!”
Although it’s the committee’s hope that these transplants would require low maintenance and could be implemented at a relatively low cost, Randy Sylvester, Department of Public Works superintendent, did have some concerns.
“I have a budget we can deal with, but this a luxury thing…I need to deal with the emergency trees first,” he said.
Although the DPW can handle the planting and purchasing of these trees at this time, it was overall maintenance that Sylvester remained concerned about.
“I believe the DPW will have to maintain it,” Sylvester said. “There will be water service supply to the park, and the DPW will be taking on those costs. My estimation is it will be $500 a year, which is not in my budget. Also mulching costs, and that estimate will be $500 to $800 per year. Plus the extra manpower costs to weed the gardens, mowing, and general garden care …
“We don’t have that availability of manpower, and for the future, we’re going to need manpower and money in order to do this. I’m not against the project…but I have to look down the road and make sure we’re covered,” he said.
Rydell said that the Garden Club had donated $27,000 to the project already, $6,000 of which would be to install a watering system. The remainder could be used for maintenance.
Yet again Sylvester cautioned against relying on outside groups to provide funding and the work, as generally those groups aren’t around for the long term.
“If this is to go through, I would like to see the funding to facilitate what is to be done,” Sylvester said.
Town Administrator Ted Alexiades agreed that the funding needed to be worked out for the project before anything could be voted upon or set in stone.
“We’ll work to see what funding is necessary and what we can do to [make this happen],” he said.