Well-intentioned though it is, the proposal to remove ten Norway maples between the new West Tisbury Library and the Field Gallery has predictably raised the hackles of some residents.
Hoping to create a level, environmentally-friendly parking lot, the library building committee has come up with a landscape plan designed to limit the ill effects of runoff. Only the driving area of the lot would be blacktopped; parking places would instead be covered with porous, brick-like pavers. These would allow runoff to leach into perimeter rain gardens, planted with young trees and native plants like coreopsis, yarrow, cornflowers and thistles that would help filter hydrocarbons and other petroleum-based products from cars.
Polly Hill Arboretum experts say a few of the maples that now gracefully shade the Field Gallery grounds are suffering from disease, and in the interests of safety, should be removed. The bigger issue is that shallow roots of the Norway maples would quickly find their thirsty way to these proposed rain gardens. From there, they predict, the roots would soon reach beneath the pavers and uproot them.
Though the existing trees, some as much as one hundred years old, would be replaced with new native plantings, it would be decades before they would be sufficiently mature to recreate the serenity the present trees provide in the heart of an increasingly bustling West Tisbury.
The goals of the library’s building committee are admirable. But couldn’t it consider a modification of the parking lot? Surely there is another way to provide a solution to the runoff problem without radically changing the sylvan feel of the town’s center. It was in part for its peaceful shade that the town of West Tisbury purchased the Field Gallery sculpture garden earlier this year.
There is an understandable reluctance, even on the part of the selectmen, to permit such a drastic change to a much-loved landscape.
The West Tisbury historic district commission has jurisdiction over the felling of trees of the size and age of the Norway maples. Members should carefully weigh townspeople’s sentiment in this matter. Meanwile, we hope the tree warden and library planners will consider ways to adjust their proposal to preserve as much as possible the familiar canopy of green in the middle of the village.