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Century-old tree on chopping block in Tappahannock

Posted on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8:43 am

The Essex County Board of Supervisors disagreed over the possibility of cutting down a tree over a century old to improve visibility at a Tappahannock street corner.

Talk of removing the Sycamore from the corner of Cross Street near the former county administrator’s office stemmed from town officials considering the replacement of the sidewalk along the corner that has been broken up over time by the tree.

Both Central Dist. Supervisor Bud Smith and Northern Dist. Supervisor Angelo S. Stevens said they did not have a problem with taking it down.

But Southern Dist. Supervisor Prue Davis balked at the notion of “taking down a couple hundred year-old tree because the darn sidewalk’s busted up.”

“Let’s do away with the sidewalk,” said Davis. “That’s what I think. I’m serious.”

She added that the sidewalk could possibly be placed on the inside of the tree as opposed to where it is now on the corner.

“We’ve already lost a beautiful tree because of VDOT (the Virginia Dept. of Transportation) and utility poles and that was a couple hundred year-old tree,” said Davis.

County Administrator Reese Peck, however, pointed out that the sidewalk was owned by the Town of Tappahannock; therefore, the sidewalk’s potential relocation inside the tree would have to be done at town officials’ discretion.

Peck added that the sidewalk near the tree in question remains a trip hazard.

“There’s a narrow little path between there and the highway,” said Peck. “You trip there and a truck’s coming…it’s not going to be a good situation.”

Sean Trapani, resident administrator of VDOT, said while his agency frowns on removing healthy trees and that the sidewalk could be relocated, the Sycamore in question blocks considerable sight distance coming out of the intersection.

“We are willing to remove it if you concur and help the town replace the sidewalk,” said Trapani.

Smith, however, said it should be up to the public whether or not the Sycamore should be cut down.

The board of supervisors agreed that the issue be reintroduced during their October meeting to allow for public comment on the tree’s possible removal.