Pin Oak marked for death
If nothing changes over the next few weeks Alan Snow -- recently voted "Tree Warden of the year" by the Massachusetts Tree Wardens & Foresters Association -- will sign a death warrant for one of the majestic, towering, healthy pin oak's that has stood guard over Kellogg Avenue for 113 years.
Even when the Shade Tree Committee votes to save the tree, the tree warden can overrule them. And even if he agrees to their recommendation of mercy, the final authority rests with the Amherst Select Board.
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Dr. George Stone, Professor of Botany at Massachusetts Agricultural College, Amherst (now know to all as UMass/Amherst) and our town's very first tree warden and founder of the Massachusetts Tree Wardens & Foresters Association planted them with his very own hands, only a few years before he died.
That rumbling sound you will hear next month will be Dr. Stone rolling over in his grave (or his ghost chasing Mr. Snow with a chain saw).
Like most targeted tree strikes the big beautiful oak is in the right place at the wrong time, standing in a spot the Unitarian Universalist Society wishes to occupy with an expansion of their downtown church.
Yes the same church that is requesting $106,250 from Amherst Town Meeting next month in Community Preservation Act Historical Preservations funds to restore their equally beautiful Tiffany stained glass window, "The Angel of the Lilies."
According to their CPA proposal (which the town committee unanimously approved): "An addition on the east side of the meetinghouse and upgrades to the existing structure are to commence in May 2013. Because the Angel of the Lilies must be removed for its own protection during this work, this is an ideal time to undertake the critically needed steps to preserve it for the benefit of future generations."
So in order to preserve one priceless treasure another must be sacrificed? Amherst College recently spent $100,000 moving their stately Camperdown Elm a few yards to protect it from a major renovation of Pratt Field.
As a newly minted member of Amherst Town Meeting (having already served for 20 years) I'm proud to say I have never voted against a historical preservation article, but if the church puts this towering treasure to death I will have trouble voting to support the restoration of their other gem.
Angel of the LiliesOne of the problems in a college town like Amherst is first generation public officials have no institutional memory. And there's a lot more to understanding the culture of Amherst than simply knowing the h is silent.
Oh what a story this mighty oak could tell after 113 years of life. Someone call the Governor. A stay of execution is in order.
Pin Oak nearest building will soon come down
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View from Rao's