WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s meeting, the Board of Selectmen sounded off on the recent tree clearings along the MBTA’s Wildcat line, which extends across Clark Street, Glen Road and Salem Street before heading into Andover.
“Residents are upset that they were not informed in advance that clearcutting would be taking place along the rail corridor,” explained Town Manager Jeff Hull in a memo. “Much of the vegetation which has served as a visual and – to some measure – sound barrier between abutting properties and the railroad tracks has been removed.”
Hull noted he spoke with the MBTA’s Community Engagement Officer Patrick Nestor about the matter, but Nestor was not familiar with the project. The town’s state delegation, including State Representative David Robertson, has also been looking for answers from the MBTA about any plans for the restoration of vegetating or fencing along the corridor.
“It’s really frustrating to see how some of these neighborhoods have been changed without any notice at all,” said Selectman Chair Greg Bendel. “We can’t bring the tree backs, but will there be some plantings or fencing? I look forward to seeing what they have in store.”
“I think about the process that a resident has to go through to get one tree removed, and then to see all these tree removed all at once, it’s really concerning,” added Bendel. “To residents affected, we hear you and understand your frustrations. We want to make sure you get the answers you deserve.”
“I’m really dismayed at the scope and breath of the scorched earth clearing that’s gone on down the Wildcat Branch over the past three weekends,” concurred Selectman Jonathan Eaton.“For residents in town to not receive any sort of notice that this was happening at all — with the exception of maybe a knock on the door an hour beforehand — is completely unacceptable.”
“Keolis, at the very least, needs to be able to answer for what happened,” added Eaton. “A lot of people have been injured by a reduction in value of their homes and a decreased quality of life. This entire situation is outrageous.”
“They got a haircut like we’ve never seen,” acknowledged State Rep. David Robertson, who was in the audience for the meeting. “For those who woke up or came home to all this, I hope your property gets restored as best it can to before this fiasco.”
Robertson hoped to have answers surrounding any mitigation efforts from the MBTA and Keolis soon. Robertson noted the MBTA official he spoke noted the T might be reluctant to offer certain mitigation for fear that other communities could request the same in similar situations.
Selectmen Chair Greg Bendel invited Keolis officials to a future Selectmen meeting to offer a public explanation to the board and residents.
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