Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eastie in the media

***Channel 7's Hank Phillipi Ryan recently turned her investigative eye toward trees in the Orient Heights neighborhood of East Boston. It seems that the city has teams trimming branches, but local residents say the workers have "butchered" the trees. For some reason, when I click the video link on the 7News web site nothing happens, but by the transcript of the story one can almost hear that phony melodramatic tone that the station always uses, and in the end, there is no scandal or secret that needs a hyped investigation. The city's arborist explains that, though it looks bad, it is the correct procedure, and come fall and winter local residents will appreciate that there are fewer branches that may pose a danger to power lines. I haven't seen the trees, and I'm sure the residents are right in their assessment that their street looks less appealing, but this story highlights a problem with local news: the graphics, music, editing, teasers, writing and tone are always implying horror and crime, while most of the time the truth is much less sinister.

Update (8/29): Boston.com's GlobeWatch feature looks at the tree-pruning issue, questioning city officials. Apparently, due to limited funds, East Boston was the only neighborhood in which a new approach to street trees was taken. The story says:
Contractors were hired to trim all 2,300 trees, even if a tree did not appear damaged or unhealthy. The idea is to take a more proactive approach to tree maintenance, as other cities do, instead of waiting until problems crop up or requests come in.
***Rolling Stone magazine offers a detailed story on a young man -- blind, poor, overweight and lonely -- from East Boston who rose to be one of the best phone hackers ever. Matthew Weigman has just started serving an 11-year sentence for his crimes, which will shock you. Read the story.

***Scup's in the Harbor, the small eatery located in the shipyard at the end of Marginal Street, has the city's best BLT, according to Boston magazine. Scup's was recently given approval for a beer and wine license, and word is that they will start serving dinner, as well as lunch and breakfast, in the fall.


N.starluna said...

I was at a meeting recently with UEI, which conducted the tree survey that was recently published. They helped the city with developing a street tree maintenance program, which the city did not have. As a result of many years of neglect, many street trees have been growing in ways that are unhealthy for the trees and pose health and safety hazards to the rest of us. East Boston us luckier than most neighborhoods. Although we have one of the smallest tree canopies of any neighborhood, most of our trees are still relatively healthy.

People need to keep in mind that if your neighbor's tree takes down one pole, it affects the electricity and telecommunication services for the entire block. With that said, UEI felt that the contractor needed to be better trained on effectively communicating with the public about what it's doing and why.

They came down my street last week and I think they did a good job. If you want the trees to grow tall enough to provide shade without risking the power lines, you have to cut down the lower branches.

Jim said...

Thank you for adding that, N.Starluna. I don't think they've done any trimming here on Bennington Street (but I was away for two weeks in July).

Anonymous said...

i believe they did the trimming up in the heights, because "his honor" came to an "open house party" on saint andrew rd back on july 11th. funny how things happen at certain times...

Mary Berninger said...

The trees in the St. Andrew Road/Annavoy Street area were also done. So far, they look healthy. Time will tell if the desired canopy will grow.

The DPW also was in the Heights on July 10 cleaning the traffic island near the library: the very traffic island DPW claimed they would never clean, since it was designed and rehabbed using funds from the NICE program. Well, lo and behold, since the mayor was coming on July 11 to the same block, DPW crews cleaned the island. The only other way neighbors can seem to get that island cleaned is to report the mess in early April, after the snows, and the city councilor will pay a private party to clean it in early or late June. It's city property, it should always be cleaned by city workers. How often do you think residents would have to wait for attention in a tony suburb or even another Boston neighborhood that curries more favor with the mayor?

DPW workers also cleaned near the entrance to St. Andrew Road (near 2 St. Andrew Road and the condos on Bayswater,) using hand broom, on July 11. When was the last anyone saw that happening on a Saturday morning in July, in a residential area???

Did anyone also happen to notice the new sidewalks and newly paved street in the very same area? Very curious happenings, but very timely for the mayor's appearance.

Anonymous said...

I live in Orient Height and we were one of the first streets to have the trees trimmed or should I say butchered!! I called the Mayor's office to report the problem and the parks dept. was to return my call never did. Well while riding down Bennington Street on Monday 8/24 low and behold here is the parks dept and their tree murders cutting again. I called the mayor's office while driving...no help there. How can they cut the tree leaving the truck bear to the third level of the homes on Bennington St. also there are no wires running down this street? We know its not happening in Menino's part of town..It’s a shame East Boston gets nothing from the city. We at the Heights can't even get a trash can on a corner...Now we have even a smaller tree canopy. More airport pollution more MBTA noise, tree with branches help with these problems.

N.starluna said...

I wouldn't call where we live "Menino's part of town". Even the folks who are infamous for abusing the system have Flaherty signs out this way. I will admit that I have noticed that whenever I call to report a problem there seems to be a quicker response as of late. Although coming at midnight with a power hose to remove graffiti on our sidewalk is not exactly a recommended course of action if there is some attempt by the mayor to curry favor. Or perhaps, coming at midnight was retribution for the three Flaherty and two Yoon signs.

Regardless, I do not believe that the tree maintenance has anything to do with this being an election year. This was a project that was in the works for a couple of years.

I'm not a tree expert but I watched the landscaping company work on our the trees on my street. They appeared to be carefully choosing the branches to prune on every tree. They also cut off many of the lower branches on the few really tall trees and it has really improved the sidewalk-scape. My neighbors talked with the workers and all except one seems to be satisfied with what they did.

I know people are sensitive about the pruning of trees. I admit to being shocked every year my dad pruned our yard tree. It just look like he killed it every year. Every year a 10-15 foot canopy returned. However, that was in California where just about anything grows. I'll ask my friend from UEI if he can recommend some websites for people to learn about how street tree maintenance is done. In the meantime, you can read the State of the Urban Forest report here: http://tinyurl.com/nksqll

James said...

This tree cutting program will not last a minute once it gets to Back Bay. They are overcutting the trees by admision (I have done a bit of research on this because my area of Meridian was one of the first to be cut several months ago), because they only have funds to do the cutting every 7 years. The cutters are being told to cut very agressively so they will last for 7 years.

This is an example of poor public policy. Why does Boston view trees as a nusiance to be afforded minimal funds to maintain them? We should be planting more trees and pruning the ones we have on a regular basis.

JohnW said...

This is clearly a case of people reading what they want into the issue. If the trees weren't pruned, there would be complaints that the city is ignoring Eastie. If they get pruned appropriately, it's called "a massacre." If they were to come out every year and check on the trees and assess whether pruning should take place or not, there would be howls of complaint over the waste of funds on trees, when schools, streets, cops, etc. don't get any money.

I'm not defending the city or the mayor, but the reality of this particular situation is that the pruning has nothing to do with election year crap nor lack of funds allocated towards tree maintenance. In the short run getting this cyclic pruning up and running actually takes a bigger bite out of the tree budget, but will in the long run save money and minimize the amount of branches coming down on wires and car hoods (and resulting insurance claims against the city and lawsuits).

There certainly is a need for more trees in the city in general and specifically Eastie has a good amount to complain about (and not just lack of trees). But this particular case of bad communication (on the City's part) and total crap journalism is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

i like to know why cottage and upper porter streets get royal treament from city of boston, new trees and asphalt on both streets, something is wrong, last time my street was paved it was 1988.outside 156 porter was paved several years ago when they converted that building, i guess there are plenty politically connected people living on those particular streets, i called city hall several times to remove spilled paint on the sidewalk outside my house, never got a call in return, i'm not voting for menino this time around-

Anonymous said...

Id like to know who cut down the 2 brand new trees infront of Walgreens. The cuts are so perfect,so it wasn't a car.
Also a neighbor in the area said Walgreens complined they were blocking thier sign,and window displays ,and asked,and got the city to cut them down.

Thats def a possibility because thats Vinny Lombardos Walgreens,and we all know hes not only the Mayors good friend,but also our othe current pols.

What a disgrace they were awesome.