Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee Chair Hope Crolius, committee member Bob Irwin
In their first meeting since the Amherst Public Shade Tree Committee became a stand alone entity, after 40 years toiling as a subcommittee of the Conservation Commission, Chair Hope Crolius came out swinging, questioning the rubber stamp routine of Tree Warden Alan Snow and the tactics of Town Manager John Musante who recently summoned her to a private meeting to address the "tone" of her committee.
Crolius rattled off a recent list of occasions where the Tree Warden ignored the tree affirming vote of the Shade Tree Committee, including Atkins Corner clearcutting, beautiful black walnuts in front of Hampshire College (that were later spared because of an easement trade by the college to the town) and most recently a huge, healthy 50 year old spruce on Railroad Street he allowed a housing management company that specializes in student rentals to whack for the convenience of a new driveway.
Alan Snow, volunteer Tree Warden and professional DPW manager
Crolius observed that for the previous five years, when not employed by the town, Snow was an outsider who put the trees first; but now that he's wearing a different hat--Division Director, Tree and Grounds Amherst DPW--he is "no longer one of us."
A previous Town Manager appointed Snow to his unpaid position as Tree Warden and of course the current Town Manager is the boss of DPW director Guilford Mooring who oversees Snow.
In a closed door meeting with Town Manager Musante, set up by Conservation Director Dave Ziomek (son of former Tree Warden Stan Ziomek) Crolius described a public relations cheerleading indoctrination session where he strongly suggested the committee "keep it positive," and consider "the big picture."
Musante boasted the town has big things to accomplish, thus the committee should not focus on doing battle for individual trees at UMass or the town owned Hawthorne sugar maples or the stately, rarely seen Camperdown Elm owned by Amherst College.
Ancient but healthy Camperdown Elm Amherst College Pratt Field
Committee member Nonny Burack responded to Crolius's report saying, "I'm very uncomfortable with the Town Manager's comments" and that they amounted to "almost a threat." She also pointed out "developers are going to laugh at you if you're overly positive."
The Public Shade Tree Committee plans to invite Town Manager Musante to attend one of their upcoming open public meetings. Apparently, being summoned to the woodshed works both ways.