METHUEN — The weeping beech tree outside the Nevins Memorial Library has weathered more than a century’s worth of storms, with Hurricane Arthur being the latest. But since the historic tree dropped a limb on the sidewalk two years ago, library staff members have been fighting an uphill battle to keep it healthy. Deemed a safety hazard, in the next two weeks it will have to come down.
“They told us it has to come down, so my goal since we heard this is to get it down before hurricane season, although of course I didn’t know that our first hurricane would be Fourth of July weekend,” library Director Krista McLeod said.
“They” have been a team of experts, including arborists, a landscape designer and the trees and parks department within the city’s Department of Public Works. City Tree Warden Jack Collins said the tree is slated to be cut down next week, weather permitting.
“We were going to try to take it down for them this week, but because of that microburst we had, we don’t have time,” Collins said Wednesday. “If we have more storm damage, if more of that weather comes in like they’re talking, it could keep us busy again.”
McLeod said the tree has suffered from complications due to its old age for years. She believes the Nevins family planted it sometime around the completion of the original library building in the 1880s. When the addition was put on in the early 2000s, McLeod said the tree was a factor in determining the layout of the new building. She and the arborists with SavATree, a Middleton-based company, took measures then to prolong the tree’s life.
“We fertilized it and did everything they said. I think we actually kept it alive much longer than it might have survived. It might not have survived construction if we hadn’t been so careful about it,” she said.