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February 20, 2014

State will consider plea to save some trees

MIDDLETON — The state has agreed not to clear-cut mature trees along the perimeter of the construction site for a new, $47 million state Department of Youth Services facility while both the state and the town hash out ways to spare some of the trees, Town Administrator Ira Singer said.

The consensus paves the way for work on the youth service center to continue.

“The town also stated it would not object to the restart of the construction project as long as (the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance) agreed not to cut or damage any of the perimeter trees identified in the town’s proposal and presentation,” Singer said in an email.

About 40 people came to Fuller Meadow School on a snowy Tuesday night for a special Conservation Commission meeting on the issue. Attendees included Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, state Rep. Ted Speliotis of Danvers, selectmen and about two dozen residents.

Representatives of the state’s juvenile justice agency and the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance were also on hand to discuss a proposal to clear-cut trees at the project site, off the west side of Gregory Street, about a half mile from Route 62, on the former Danvers State Hospital property.

The impending tree clearing raised the ire of neighbors and town officials who said some tall trees screening the site should be spared.

“I think everyone went into that meeting expecting the worst, but everyone came out of it very good,” said Dennis O’Brien, a neighbor opposed to the tree-cutting. He said Conservation Commission Chairman Tom Skinner made a good case for preserving the trees, with the town using slides and pictures to present its case.

As for the state, O’Brien said: “They really seemed, I think, to listen.”

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