"I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. And I'm asking you sir, at the top of my lungs - that thing! That horrible thing that I see!" - Dr. Seuss
Framingham is living a modern-day Lorax tale.
Earlier this week, residents of the Oaks Neighborhood Association were outraged to find trees cut down to their stumps at Reardon Park and Playground.
Children cried when they learned that their beloved climbing tree was destroyed. Parents were outraged. Neighbors angry, that NSTAR had opted instead of trimming trees near wires, but to cut the trees to their stumps.
"For those that have visited Reardon it no longer looks the same. The large Cedar tree near the basketball court is gone, along with all the trees that were on the right side of the park," said Josh Mulready, co-chair of the Oaks Neighborhood Association.
Thursday, members of the Oaks Neighborhood Association, Framingham State Representative Chris Walsh, Framingham Selectman Charles Sisitsky, Highway & Sanitation Director Daniel Nau and Parks & Recreation Director Bob Merusi met with NSTAR Representative Rachel Brinkman to discuss tree clearing at Reardon Park and the surrounding neighborhood, said Mulready.
"NSTAR representatives have agreed to meet and discuss this issue prior to doing any more clear cutting," said Walsh.
"It was agreed upon that NSTAR would not cut any other trees in the park or at Saxonville Beach," said Mulready.
But Melissa Ramsay said NSTAR was cutting trees as late as 2:45 p.m. yesterday, May 24.
Ramsay, who lives next to Reardon Park for more than a dozen years, said "at 2:45 p.m. my son and I heard a chainsaw and he walked up to the park to find a worker cutting a small birch tree at the basketball court, no where near the lines."
Ramsay said her son questioned why they were cutting the tree and they continued to cut. She said the man said "it may pose a future problem."
"It is obvious that tree has been there for many years and will never pose a problem. I don't understand why after an agreement was made that they continue to cut. I also found out that my tree is coming down ... I'm very upset!," said Ramsay
Ramsay is not alone in her outrage.
"I have lived in the Oaks neighborhood for 10 years. We LOVE this park. NSTAR totally destroyed it. Why did they cut down the tree by the basketball court that wasn't near any lines? My son is so upset (he along with MANY children used that as their climbing tree). The people nearest to the park were told there would be 'tree trimming' not tree mowing," said Meredith Wolff.
"I spoke with Bill Mayes from NSTAR at the park today, as my boys sat in the car crying over the sight of the park. He was so insensitive and had absolutely no compassion. He was arrogant and had no regard for the wildlife or the sight of the park. He went as far as to say that he and NSTAR think that there shouldn't be a park there at all. Which raises major concerns for the future," wrote Christine Suau to Framingham Patch.
Mulready said a series of meetings will be scheduled in the coming days and the neighbors will have the opportunity to discuss their grievances with NSTAR at a tentatively scheduled special Board of Selectman meeting Wednesday, May 30.
"This is an issue of concern for folks and we understand that. That's why we personally reach out to residents whose property abuts our rights-of-way to explain what we're doing and why," said NSTAR spokesperson Michael Durant in a written statement. "Every day, our arborists have to balance the aesthetic value of trees with the reliability of electric service and in the past we’ve allowed some trees to remain in the right-of-way that really could have or should have come down long ago."
Mulready added that Walsh requested NSTAR representatives come to an Association meeting to meet with him and the neighborhood.
Most of the trees at Reardon are already gone, said Mulready. Maintained by Framingham Parks & Recreation, Mulready said even the town didn't know the extent of the cutting until yesterday.
The Association still hopes to save a giant Oak tree at the park, that gives the Association its name.
"Trees are the number one cause of power outages and we have an obligation to do everything in our power to prevent them. Tens-of-thousands of customers rely on those lines for reliable electric service so if there's one issue involving a tree it has the potential to affect the power of tens-of-thousands of people," said Durant in a written statement.
"This is an absolute travesty! ... I could see a few braches here and there as in past years. This is going to have a negative effect for wildlife and residents across Framingham. If we don't stop this or at least have our voice heard, NSTAR could take over another park," said J. Chip Kivlehan.
NSTAR recently changed its tree strategy. Instead of trimming, it has opted to remove all trees when they reach maturity that could interfere with the high-voltage lines.
Editor's Note: Article was update at 12:10 p.m. Friday with statements from NSTAR