Damaged ash removals in Derry tagged at $100,000

Tree Warden Kevin Beattie addresses dealing with anticipated elm damage. All photos by Bruce Frauman.

By Bruce Frauman
©2018 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Londonderry Tree Warden Kevin Beattie has estimated that the cost of removing ash trees along the town’s rights of way to be about $100,000 and recommended that the town set up a reserve fund to meet the challenge.

At its Monday, Nov. 19, meeting, the Londonderry Select Board agreed in principle to the recommendation as it formulates strategies to deal with anticipated devastation by the emerald ash borer beetle on the state’s ash tree population. While the beetle has yet to reach Londonderry, it has hit other parts of the state.

Once a tree is infected by the beetle, according to Beattie, the tree will die in about five years. However, he added, it will need to be removed well before then because the closer to death the harder and more expensive the tree becomes to take down. Board member Taylor Prouty added that once an area is infested with borer beetles, peak devastation occurs in about 10 years.

Beattie arrived at the estimated cost by inventorying about 20 percent of the town’s roads, figuring there are about 15 ash trees per mile, or about 750 total. He expects  public utilities to take care of about 30 percent of the trees, leaving 500 for the town to remove. Using the town road crew, Beattie thinks it will cost about $200 to remove each tree for a total town expense of about $100,000. He said his estimate can be used as the town heads into budget talks in the next two months.

Town Treasurer Tina Labeau said she’ll be setting up department budget talks.

Board member George Mora asked about the value of ash lumber once a tree is infected. Beattie said so far the value is holding, although True Temper is stockpiling ash at great expense so the demand is still up. Once they decide they have enough ash or run out of money, Beattie said he expects the value to plummet.

Coming out of an hourlong  executive session after their public session, the board voted to set up interviews with two candidates for the Town Administrator position on Monday Nov. 26. The board also voted to pay interim Town Administrator Kevin Beattie $30 per hour. Beattie told the Telegraph that he will work 10 hours a week.

In other news, board chair Jim Ameden said the town has started using sand and salt “way earlier than we should be,” that everything is going smoothly, road crew is doing a good job, and “the new hire is doing really well.”

  • Also, Town Treasurer Tina Labeau said she will schedule preliminary budget talks with the town’s nine departments starting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29. At least one board member will be expected to attend each session.
  • Ameden said Joan Dayton, collector of delinquent taxes for the town, has asked board permission to retain a lawyer to set up a tax sale in the spring. Labeau said it takes three to four months to get the process going. The board agreed to Dayton’s request.
  • Mora said the Traffic Committee has received the safety audit of Thompsonburg Road from the Department of Transportation and will meet next week to discuss it. Board member Bob Forbes said he read the report and was very impressed.
  • Beattie said he, Dwight Johnson and Sharon Crossman met recently to go over the draft of the Memo of Understanding between Judy and Tom Platt and the town for a flood mitigation project concerning the Old Post Office, which they own on Main Street. They would like the MOU signed as soon as possible.
  • And George Legace thanked the Board for allowing Ruck-Up, which aids American war veterans, to set up a coin drop on Oct. 27 on Route 11/100 in Londonderry, He said they had to stop after two hours because of snowy weather but still collected $800. Legace said he expected to be back in March to ask permission to do another coin drop in April.
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