The Whitefield Select Board voted Tuesday to proceed with the removal of nine trees in an effort to make Hollywood Boulevard more accessible to larger vehicles, including firetrucks and school buses.

Select Board member Frank Ober said there was little public discussion during the meeting, in part because he made it clear to people that the board would listen only to comments about concerns that hadn’t been made public previously.

“We didn’t need the same information presented again,” Ober said.

He said the town hopes to complete the bidding process for the tree work within the next couple of weeks. The town already has a contract for the brush removal, and Road Commissioner David Boynton will complete the road work. Ober said the goal is for the work to be completed before the end of the year.

“That’s our goal,” he said. “We want it done before snow becomes a problem.”

The unpaved part of the road in question begins at the Sheepscot Valley Brewing Co. and continues for nearly 1.5 miles.

Some of the residents along the tree-lined stretch of the rural road off Route 194 were concerned that the removal of trees would decrease their privacy. Brian O’Mahoney objected to the removal of a large tree in front of his home, in part because of the privacy it helps provide.

“Obviously, there’s a degree of that; but I love this road, and more broadly, it amazes me that the first response was to widen the road,” he said earlier this week. “It’s a safe road, but I’m not driving a school bus.”

The Select Board began seriously to consider improving the road after learning about the complaint filed at Regional School Unit 12 that a school bus wouldn’t come down the road during the winter because of problems with snow removal and lines of sight that created a safety hazard for the driver.

At its narrowest point, the road is 17 feet wide, Boynton said; the town standard is 20 feet. He said the road can be widened using gravel in some spots and clearing some brush.

“You can’t see well around the corner and it gets narrow, so a combination of building it out with gravel and cutting some trees and brush will make it work,” he said.

Town officials, after consulting with licensed foresters, originally marked more than 30 trees for removal,;but after further discussions, they decided on putting fewer than 10 on the chopping block.

Boynton said it’s important people understand that as the owner of the road, the town has the right to “come in and do whatever” they want and “cut the whole thing right out.” But town officials want to work with residents to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.

“These are standard things that every road should have, and this is not unique to just Whitefield,” Ober said.

Select Board member Tony Marple wasn’t at the meeting Tuesday, but he said another issue raised was that of speeding on Hollywood Boulevard. He said he hopes the Department of Transportation will review the speed limit for the road, which, under state law for an unposted road, is 45 mph.

Ober said he understands residents’ concerns because speeding is happening all over Whitefield.

“They’ve just finished paving Town House Road and I spoke with one person who said now that it’s nice and smooth, people will go even faster than before,” Ober said.

The town has options to put up signs asking people to slow down without needing the state agency to step in.

“It won’t change the speed limit,” Ober said, “but it’ll perhaps make people more aware.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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