Today’s Globe West has very good news for West Newton Square. We’re next on the list for village center beautification. Ah, the virtues of being the worst! (I’ve been told that an assessment of the condition of the village centers judged West Newton to be in the worst shape.)
I was happy to see the article specifically mentions trees, and ours in the square have been in dire shape for a long time. There are empty spaces where trees used to be, notably the now-bare stretch in front of the police station. There are dead trees. Dying trees. Trees that are still trying (a linden with almost no leaves, but next year’s buds are alive). Some still-healthy lindens that would benefit from pruning. Tree grates buried in mulch.
The absence of trees is most notable on the north side of Washington Street, the sunny side where you would most like some shade if, for example, you were sitting on that slightly crumbling, not-too-comfortable looking concrete bench in front of the police station.
I don’t know how extensive the improvements will be, in scope and geographically, but given the state of the sidewalks, I hope it will be possible to do more than just replant the existing, but empty (or soon to be empty) tree wells. Bigger tree wells would help with long-term survival, as would some type of semi-permeable surface in between that would get more water to the roots. (The bricks that are now falling apart might have been intended to do that, but for some people they can become a tripping hazard.)
Whenever the last big overhaul happened, the designer for some reason planted large-maturing trees (mainly linden, also some ash) in pairs too close together. Not only would you get more useful shade from better spacing, it’s better for the trees to have more room, both for roots and canopy. Witness what happened in front of the Armory. One linden in a pair went down in one of the storms, leaving the remaining linden suddenly exposed and with not many
branches on one side, and within a year or two it had lost a major limb in another storm and had to be cut down.
As noted in the Globe article, improvements will go beyond the visual, and include traffic light timing and parking, which could probably be its own thread or two! Ever watched traffic coming from Chestnut Street into the square at rush hour trying to make a left turn onto Washington Street at the end of their light?