Amherst BID teams up with town to add to tree stock

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
AMHERST — Where three trees once stood on the south side of Main Street near Town Hall, only deteriorating stumps remain at the center of the stone-lined tree wells.

To improve the aesthetics of this section of Main Street, dominated by a parking lot and a PVTA bus stop, the Amherst Business Improvement District and Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee are launching a pilot partnership that at the start will plant three ornamental trees.

Sarah la Cour, executive director of the BID, said this will likely to be an ongoing collaboration that ensures a good tree canopy exists in downtown.

“We’re starting with a location that seems desperate for (trees),” la Cour said. “We’re excited about it.”

The small trees, each in a large wooden box, will be installed on top of the existing tree wells at 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10.

“The idea is we would beautify the downtown,” said Shade Tree Committee member Michael Hutton-Woodland.

La Cour said her organization and the town committee have had discussions for more than a year about how adding trees to the downtown landscape could be accomplished. While the town is in the midst of a three-year plan to plant 2,000 new public shade trees, few of these trees have gone along the downtown streets.

Originally, the BID and committee had considered placing the trees in boxes along South Pleasant Street in front of the Merchants’ Row businesses, but determined there were already enough trees there. Main Street, though, was more barren.

“The theory is that it makes a big statement right away,” la Cour said.

The BID, which promotes downtown as a destination for shoppers and diners, is investing $1,500 for the purchase of the wooden boxes, each measuring about 2 feet, 6 inches tall, 5 feet wide by 6 feet long, and which are large enough that they cannot be removed without machinery.

Tree Warden Alan Snow said he expects Callery pear trees, which blossom in the spring, to be chosen to go into the boxes. He said these are an appropriate size and if they get too big they can be transplanted and replaced.

The stumps have remained because there is concern about digging affecting underground utilities.

“It provides a great solution to get some greenery there without having to dig,” said la Cour, observing that there are other places in downtown where tree boxes may be an appropriate solution.

Select Board members, who approved the planting plan Monday, seemed to like the idea. Connie Kruger said stumps do not look good to visitors and the tree boxes will be a nice improvement.

With discussions about improvements to the nearby North Common, Hutton-Woodland said the trees could also be moved to another location if they are in the way of any work in coming years.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.