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Downtown Nashua trees really grew on residents, now being cut


NASHUA - Some local residents are expressing disappointment after witnessing more than a dozen trees along Main Street being cut down as part of the city's downtown improvement project.

Starting on Monday, crews from the Nashua Parks and Recreation Department began chopping down trees on Main Street sidewalks in front of downtown businesses.

By noon on Tuesday, a total of 13 trees were removed, according to Nicholas Caggiano, superintendent of parks and recreation, who said workers are done with the tree removal for now.

"It is terrible," said Joyce Burgess of Nashua while walking downtown on Tuesday morning. "It upsets me because we seem to be cutting down trees for every reason imaginable."

Every tree along Main Street will be removed as part of the major sidewalk renovations now under way. The trees will eventually be replaced with new, smaller trees that will be planted with root barriers so that they do not destroy the new sidewalks.

Some of the trees that are still standing along Main Street are causing the sidewalk bricks to shift and loosen as the roots grow, creating a hazard for pedestrians, according to city officials.

"This is not right. It is kind of sad," Joan Rowell said of the trees being cut down. "I think they might have been azalea trees, but whatever they were, they were so beautiful in the spring."

Rowell, who was enjoying a frozen yogurt while strolling along Main Street on Tuesday, says she understands the need to fix the damaged sidewalks, but is still crushed that the landscaping - even if it is just temporary - was being disrupted.

Others had a more optimistic view about the three-year, $2 million sidewalk improvement project.

"In a few years we are going to see something that looks much better than this," said Richard Kirk, who has lived in Nashua for about four decades. "Sometimes it has to be done."

On Monday, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau visited some downtown business owners to update them on the Main Street project, including Richard Young, manager at Baby Butsu Boutique.

Young said he was pleased the mayor stopped in to explain the work that is being done outside of his shop.

While Young admits he is a little saddened about seeing the trees go, he says the final result will hopefully be worth the wait.

"They are going to replace the trees, which is important, and they have plans to add some green spaces. The plans look good," said Young, adding he was happy the tree removal outside of his boutique was completed before the store opened on Tuesday.

In addition to replacing the trees, granite landscaping beds are also going to be installed, according to the mayor's plans.

Ten blocks along Main Street are expected to undergo major sidewalk improvements within three years, a project that is expected to cost upwards of $2 million.

Along with sidewalk improvements, city workers will correct drainage problems and install new street lights, mast arm mounted traffic signals, benches, trash containers and newspaper boxes, according to Lozeau, who said previously that every crosswalk will be easily accessible for wheelchair use, new bike racks will be installed, recycling bins will be added and new tree grates will be constructed.

"I hope they do add benches and tree shade, especially for the senior citizens who like to walk downtown," Burgess said. "But I am going to miss the Christmas lights this year. It was always pretty well lit."

Lozeau said previously that she is trying to figure out a way to still incorporate holiday lights, possibly using something other than trees to display the Christmas decorations.

Work began last summer in the downtown area, as members of the city's Public Works Department began installing new sidewalks along both sides of the Main Street Bridge. Currently, work is progressing along the second block of Main Street.

khoughton@newstote.com
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