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Elm on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall collapses onto road; had just been tagged for removal

Elm tree across Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay

Photo by Laurie Thomas.

One of the Back Bay's stately elms toppled over onto the outbound side of Commonwealth Avenue just past Massachusetts Avenue this afternoon. No injuries, but one car was hit. Laurie Thomas surveyed the damage and reported around 6 p.m.:

Arborist from the Parks Dept says he examined the elm and marked it for removal just four hours ago!

Fallen elm tree and the car it hit
Neighborhoods: 

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Comments

Well, Magoo reckons that’s one way to do it. Egads be golly Magoo sure is glad nonebody got hurtsky! Magoo.

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Why doesn’t the city hire a third-party to take care of trees.

Thoughtful responses only

The city takes care of its tree canopy like it takes care of its public transportation infrastructure

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The T is.

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This may not be a thoughtful answer...

But their arborist was correct.

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But their arborist was correct.

Just kind of slow on the uptake though, right? I mean, I have to think that there must have been indications that it was unsound more than four hours earlier.

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Everything’s gonna be ok. Deep breaths. In and out.

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Unless you're arguing for this third-party to come in and ban cars from Comm Ave (which is a proposal I'm happy to entertain), I'm not sure how said third-party would have stopped someone from driving into a tree. ignore this I can't read this morning

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Nobody drove into a tree. The tree fell on a car.

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That's what I get for jumping to conclusions - mea culpa!

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When you're a car, you have to understand: trees will fall on you.

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It sounds like the problem is either that they aren't inspecting the trees regularly, or that nobody is responding to citizen reports that a tree looks sick.

A third-party contractor might have an incentive to remove trees, healthy or otherwise, if they were paid per tree removed or pruned. If they were paid per tree inspected, or a flat fee per year, they would have an incentive to walk down the street, glance at each tree, and check it off the list.

Maybe they need more arborists--but if so, they need to actually hire more people to do the work, not funnel the same amount of money through a politician's brother's company.and assume that will improve services.

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The trees on the Mall actually get a lot of attention because Back Bay's neighborhood groups do what it takes to care for those trees.

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee (organized by the Friends of the Public Garden and NABB) has been active since the 1970s. Without it, the Mall would not be as glorious as it is. Back Bay's Garden Club also raises money (selling Christmas wreaths, membership dues, an annual fundraising party, etc.) with the primary goal of taking care of our neighborhood trees. These organizations work with the Parks Dept. to keep the trees pruned, protected, treated for diseases (including Dutch Elm), etc. Those plaques that you see at the foot of many trees also help to pay for tree care.

Neighbors from those groups also volunteer to water the new mall trees from June to October. The City just planted a lot of new trees. If you see us watering them, beginning next week, don't hesitate to say hello.

The City's arborists are great, and the one who examined the tree yesterday couldn't have known what was just about to happen. There were no signs of imminent disaster; the timing was a crazy coincidence. And it was not because of neglect. One theory is that it was root failure from a civic construction project that tore up that area of the Mall.

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World class.

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Damn ents and their moots!

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Did it have Dutch elm disease? Elm trees are very rare, though they’re more common in downtown areas since they’re somewhat isolated from other elms that could spread the disease.

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And the tree falls four hours later.

Why am I suddenly thinking about the scene from The Blues Brothers where they pull up to the building housing the Cook County tax office, get out of the car, and the car then totally falls apart?

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Cars were backed up on both Beacon and Hereford Streets for over an hour—glad to finally know why!

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