HAVERHILL — Critics and supporters of a massive cutting and thinning of Winnekenni Park’s forest agree on this much: The obliteration of the wooded landscape is a shocking site.
Many neighbors of the sprawling park off Route 110 have contacted city officials and The Eagle-Tribune to question why so many hemlock trees were cut and removed.
City Council will discuss the matter Tuesday at its 7 p.m. meeting in City Hall.
Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien said she put the matter on the agenda after receiving many calls and emails from residents upset about all the trees that were removed from the forest at the popular city-owned park, which has hundreds of acres.
Haverhill Conservation Agent Rob Moore and the city’s forest management consultant are expected to brief the council on the tree-cutting project at the meeting.
Councilor Thomas Sullivan, a park neighbor and longtime member of the Winnekenni Foundation, said the company hired by the city to thin the forest had no choice but to remove most trees east of Kenoza Lake because they were infected with woolly adelgids — a tree-killing insect that feed on hemlocks, causing needles to drop, branches to rot and trees to die.
“There was no choice but to cut acres of dead hemlocks,” Sullivan said. “Had we done something 15 years ago, maybe we could have introduced a beetle that would have killed the adelgids before it got so bad. But we were too late. These trees were becoming a fire hazard and public safety problem because they were all falling down.”
In a letter published this month in The Eagle-Tribune, Owen and Rhonda Reynolds of Haverhill said the thinning of the east side of Winnekenni Park “has resulted in utter and wanton destruction of a large area of a beautiful forest with peaceful trails used by thousands of walkers, joggers and mountain bikers every year.”