National Grid Clears The Air Over Tree Trimming

OSWEGO, NY – Representatives from National Grid meet with city officials and a handful of residents Monday night in City Hall.

The meeting was facilitated by the city in the wake of some residents’ concerns over what they say was unannounced tree trimming by National Grid.

The utility company has been upgrading its power lines and Monday night’s meeting was a chance for them to explain what they are doing and answer questions from the public.

Third Ward Councilor Mike Todd said the city should plant smaller trees under the power lines or stop planting trees under the wires altogether.

Jim Malonoy, load supervisor distribution forestry for National Grid, said the company is doing maintenance and a rebuild of their power lines.

He explained how the company handles trees on city property and private property.

“If it’s private, we don’t have rights,” he explained.

Individual homeowners are notified when National Grid seeks to do work on private property, he said.

Trees are associated with an average of about $7,000 increase in property values, which translates directly into your tax base, one resident said.

Half the trees in his neighborhood were shaved from the trunk to the top.

“I find it hard to believe that that was truly necessary,” he added.

If National Grid had an effective notification system, this should not have been a surprise to virtually everyone in the neighborhood, he said.

“If neighbors are surprised, then the notification system is ineffective,” he told the National Grid representative.

One resident asked why the utility company doesn’t place more power lines underground.

It really isn’t feasible, Malonoy said, adding that it would cost about $1 million per mile.

Oswego Tree Steward Phil MacArthur, a member of the city’s Tree Advisory Board, said the utility company should toe the line in regards to Oswego’s tree ordinance.

“So, if you have to take down a mature, healthy tree … you’d pay $1,500 for a replacement. That would show us that you value our trees,” he said. “I think that is something the city should negotiate.”

“We’re already working on that with other municipalities,” Malonoy said.

Monday’s night’s meeting was a good dialogue, Mayor Tom Gillen said.

He hopes National Grid continues to be a good corporate neighbor and keeps the lines of communication open throughout the coming new year.

“I heard National Grid agree to pay $1,500 into our tree budget for each and every mature tree they remove. This will buy a dozen young trees for our city to help defray the damage they cause to our city tree canopy,” MacArthur told Oswego County Today after the meeting. “When you consider each mature tree has a real value of $10,000 to $30,000 it still is small change but perhaps the best we can negotiate considering how ‘tight’ National Grid is with the Public Service Commission.”

1 Comment

  1. In 1983 when we purchased our home, ours was a tree-lined street on the Westside. Children played on the sidewalks, and it was part of what made Oswego one of the best kept secrets in the nation…a SAFE & Pretty city with two waterways that had a lovely tree-canopy on most neighborhood streets.

    I don’t know how it began, maybe the need to take down trees to create the parking spots required for multiple family dwellings, but there are few of these canopies anymore. Our street certainly doesn’t have them.

    It began with the utility cutting away branches until the trees died. And then, of course, a new parking spot was ‘available’ in the zoned ‘green space’ for parking spaces. MANY trees just ‘happened’ to die this way, and I have often wondered if there was a ‘friend’ to ‘friend’ benefit from a utility worker helping his landlord buddy out…A planned demise of these canopied streets.

    What the personal impact for us was, our two family apprai$ed in 1994 for $129,999, dropped to $72k approximately in 1997. I’m not saying it was the loss of the canopy that did this. More likely it is the reality that Oswego (and most of the northeast) is just not ‘worth as much’ contrary to what the new City assessments state…but it can’t have hurt to have more urban blight with the loss of these ‘green spaces’ replaced by concrete pads where the trees had been.

    The issue of course, is that trees provide not just health benefits, which the tree stewarts will describe if you ask them. They also help improve utility bills by blanketing homes winter and summer, but the ‘charm’ of a city…Cutting trees in ‘weird’ arcs, or taken all the branches off one side, ruins that charm!

    Now, we have a new blight, hitting many of the trees planted to replace the trees destroyed by earlier blights (one made Washington Blvd. bare when it had been a picturesque avenue in the 1930/40/50).

    We need to proceed cautiously, as not just home owners, values to matter by what is called ‘curb appeal,’ but also as a City encouraging new industries to settle here. CEOs/Administrators like pretty places to bring their families. Even college faculty often reside outside our city (prettier Fayetteville, Manlius, even Liverpool), rather than live in our recent urban blight…

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