BRIGHTON, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — About 100 neighbors in Brighton rallied at Washington Street to show their anger after a developer cut down a beloved neighborhood tree on Monday.
The 200-year-old beech tree was located on properties previously owned by St. John’s Seminary and the Archdiocese of Boston that have long since been vacant, according to the developer Davos Construction. The developer said the tree was cut down in an effort to clear space for a new housing development project.
For some neighbors, this was not just any old tree. Steve Ashcraft is a local resident who took care of the tree for 49 years, and he said he was devastated because the tree was an important part of the neighborhood and its history.
"I haven't slept in three or four days since this happened," he said. "We sat under there, we had lunch, we had a few beers under there, we climbed the tree, and we carved our initials in there."
Peter Davos, of Davos Construction, said in a statement to WBZ NewsRadio he and his team tried to find a way to work around the tree, but there was no other option.
"I deeply regret that anger and harsh words have been exchanged in the last few days in the neighborhood, almost exclusively regarding the beech tree," Davos said in a statement. "My team researched the status of trees on our property. We explored alternatives in every way to retain the beech tree and still build housing on the property. We were unable to find a way. Previous plans for development would not allow that either, despite everyone’s best intentions to do so."
At the gathering, residents called for more accountability and transparency from the city and developers when it comes to tree removal. Boston City Councilor Liz Breadon said the current tree ordinance in Boston is "toothless" and the city council will hold hearings within the next month on legislation to update the city's policies.
"When our urban tree canopy is one of the few things we have to help us mitigate the impacts of climate change and heatwaves, we should be protecting our trees instead of cutting them down," Breadon said.
WBZ's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports.