Franklin Countys First News

Broadway pine tree coming down

Chair Joshua Bell, Town Manager Richard Davis and Selectman Scott Landry review photographs of the damaged pine tree.

FARMINGTON - The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to have an old white pine tree on Broadway taken down Tuesday evening, after reviewing a report that indicated its extensive internal damage could put surrounding property and people at risk.

According to the report, the tree was likely struck by lightning years ago, leaving a long, jagged exit wound. That internal damage was not fully contained by solid wood, the arborist's report indicated, resulting in decay in the trunk. As the tree's canopy was above the weakened, hollowing section, the report concluded, the tree was at risk of simply snapping in half in a windstorm.

The white pine near the corner of Broadway and High Street is hollowing out and may need to come down.

Selectmen voted to take down the white pine near the corner of Broadway and High Street Tuesday evening, after receiving a report that it posed a risk to the area.

Town Manager Richard Davis said that he was in the process of collecting quotes to take the tree down. Given the size and location of the pine, selectmen suggested that the contractor would need to use a crane.

The Board of Selectman last seriously considered cutting down the tree in 1996, after a large limb fell during a winter storm, damaging private property. The tree was also slated for destruction in 1990, as part of a sidewalk project, but was spared thanks to the actions of the "Pine Tree Six;" local middle school students that famously stood in a circle around the trunk. This most recent damage was discovered last year, after an arborist was hired to limb up the pine.

Another nearby tree may also be coming down, Davis noted. A large pine tree near the Octagon House is leaning toward the building and will also likely need to come down. That tree is located out of the town's right of way, Davis said, so it would be up to the building owners, the Farmington Historical Society to address the issue. Still, the town and society may be able to save money by bringing in a contractor for both jobs in the same time frame.

While some had previously suggested using a portion of the white pine to create some sort of carving or statue, Davis advised against it, noting that it would be impossible to select a universally-popular design. Instead, he recommended removing some of the surrounding bricks and planting a new tree. Someone had already offered to grind the stump down free of charge, Davis noted.

In addition to the design issue, Selectman Matthew Smith said, it was quite possible that there wouldn't be enough wood at the base of the tree to carve, given the progression of decay through the trunk.

Selectman Scott Landry recommended the planting of an elm tree, one of the new, disease-free variants, and the board unanimously agreed to that suggestion.

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11 Responses »

  1. It's definitely time for that tree to come down. I think anyone with an ounce of common sense would agree.
    Cut the thing down, plant another tree and move on. Before someone gets killed.

  2. We were very lucky that no one has been hurt. Maybe the pros know more than some middle schoolers? Nah!

  3. Could of been carved in to UMF's mascot.

  4. Back in 1990, it wasn't decayed or dangerous,it was just "in the way", which is why those darn middle schoolers decided to protect it. But if there is now evidence that it is sick and a hazard, it should certainly be removed, and I'm happy that they're planting a new one there.

    ~ one of those middle schoolers

  5. My daughter was one of the 'Pine Tree Six" so this news is bittersweet. I was so proud of the principal at the junior high at the time, Paul Brown, who let the students leave the building that morning, accompanied by a student teacher, and exercise their 1st amendment right. All the parents were notified and we cheered them on!

  6. I bet they could fell it right between United Way and and North Wind. might tie up traffic for a bit to clean up...

  7. The testimony by the experts was that it was dying and dangerous.

  8. Sorry, Jane, but I was the Principal at Mt. Blue Junior High, and I dealt with the Pine Tree Six. I made the decisions in "the case" --- it was difficult, but at the time, I deemed it the right way to deal with it The students were exercising what they had been taught in Phil Hayes and Clyde Ross Sociology class. They behaved absolutely appropriately. We even sent school lunches down to them, showing our school's caring for our kids. I felt compelled to administer some disciplinary action to the "Six" because they had violated a serious school policy, but it was less than the standard suspension from school. The "Six" appreciated that respectful treatment as did their parents. Some folks did not agree, whishing I had been harsher, but I felt the educational impact for the individuals and for community members observing was worth making that decision.

    The incident made news all around the country, and we (the school) received letters of appreciation for what transpired that day from folks from many distant states. Several folks enclosed cash to help support efforts to save the tree.

    I guess it is time for the tree to go, but I am happy it continued to grace Broadway for 27 more years. I still feel a sense of pride the way the "Six" represented what we were trying to achieve as a Mt. Blue Jr. HS staff.

  9. Thank you, Mr.Sills
    The facts are as they are and proves that the common sense of a small community has
    been and Is still the envy of the masses.
    Time has come for the tree to come down and again common sense rules.
    It would be nice, if possible, for a local artisan to carve something on what trunk could be salvaged.
    The select people and Town Manager prove that "cooler heads prevail", kudos.
    We are blessed, all we need to prove is our worthiness.

  10. What a shame that such a beautiful old tree has to be taken down. Just think of the changes that tree has "seen"! But everything has its day and it's time for leaving.

  11. Oops. Sorry, Ron. Thanks for correcting my error. And thanks for your leadership and good sense in dealing with the "six." i had forgotten also that they were "disciplined" for their action but that it wasn't a big deal.