Brian Kane: Saving the Buttonball

Published: 4/27/2021 10:36:04 AM Saving the Buttonball Regarding the update on April 19 about road and sidewalk construction on No...

Published: 4/27/2021 10:36:04 AM

Saving the Buttonball

Regarding the update on April 19 about road and sidewalk construction on North Main Street in Sunderland (“Metal fence proposed to protect 400-year-old Buttonball Tree),” the metal fence is entirely inadequate.

The fence is movable, not fixed in the ground; it doesn’t encircle the critical root zone of the tree, it just runs parallel to the road; there are no signs to indicate what it is, why it’s there, and whom to contact; and it’s not long enough.

For the Buttonball’s trunk diameter (98 inches), the diameter of the critical root zone should be 196 feet. These limitations make it easy for the contractor to infringe on the root zone and damage the tree’s roots — either directly or by compacting soil. I raised these same issues with Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the town of Sunderland following a Select Board meeting in September 2019, when the North Main Street project was at the 25% design phase (according to the MassDOT presentation at the meeting).

There was ample time to adjust the project design to minimize impact on the historic Buttonball, but little was done. According to Massachusetts Department of Conservation Resources, this is the largest tree in Massachusetts; if you’ve never seen it in person, you should — it’s awesome. It will outlive all of us and, given a chance, will outlast many future construction projects. But its roots need to be protected. It’s really disappointing that MassDOT and the town have not taken every possible precaution to protect this priceless resource.

Brian Kane


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Newsrust - US Top News: Brian Kane: Saving the Buttonball
Brian Kane: Saving the Buttonball
Newsrust - US Top News
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