Controversy after old tree was cut down in West Haven

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WEST HAVEN--An 80-year-old tree was cut down on the West Haven Green two weeks ago, but it is still making noise. Some of chatter was due to the city's tree warden--who was not a proponent of removing the tree at this time--being fired after the sugar maple was cut down on Nov. 18.

Mayor Edward O'Brien, who says the tree had no foliage on it throughout this past growing season and that it was dead, said the tree was an immediate hazard to the community. He said residents attending the farmers market on the green complained about the tree, which, according to a Sep. 18 incident report, dropped limbs on picnic tables beneath the tree.

treeO'Brien says this isn't the first time there's been trouble with the tree. Shortly after he took office last year, he says city employees told him how one day they heard a big boom on the green and looked out their windows across the street from City Hall to see a major portion of the tree lying on the sidewalk.

Leo Kelly, a 30-year arborist who was relieved of his duties as tree warden by O'Brien recently, says the tree simply needed some TLC. Kelly adds that by taking down the tree without holding a public hearing or getting his approval first, the city violated a state statute.

When asked if this tug-of-war over the tree was what ultimately got Kelly fired, Mayor O'Brien said no but admitted there had been friction between the two on several occasions during the mayors one year in office.

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