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Reshaped Magnolia Park reopens as 200 attend

Dawn Redwood / Galina Bird photoLarge dawn redwood shading Magnolia Park garden before it was cut. / Galina Bird photo

Magnolia Park reopened Saturday, June 17, with a brief ceremony, and an estimated 200 people attended. 

Town officials thanked residents for their patience through this park project in an email announcement Monday, June 12.

It said: "The Park and Recreation Commission has spent much time working on addressing as many community requests as possible with this park. We are confident this will be a great park for the residents of Arlington for many years to come.

"There are still some grass areas in the park that are being established, so we ask everyone to be mindful of this."

Two dawn redwoods at the park, including one that had been the focus of protests, came down last August and were turned into chips and logs by a Cambridge tree company. A smaller redwood remains.

An East Arlington man and a young boy looked through the fenced-off recreation area as a truck from Cambridge Landscape Co. pulled out another that had got stuck in sand in the play area after tree-cutting.

The only protest was a sign affixed to the fence appealing to save a redwood. Other signs, posted July 25 after the Conservation Commission voted to cut down two trees, were removed almost as soon as they were put up.

Jim Feeney, then the town's acting director of parks and recreation, confirmed Aug. 17 that taken down were two dawn redwoods, 30-inch and 12-inch-caliper trees. A 24-inch-caliper dawn redwood still stands.

He noted that also removed were a small apple tree, two red maples and a sweet gum, or a total of six trees. In a comment that seems to have been lost during debate this summer, he added that 39 new trees will be planted.

No appeal filed

The tree removals followed a 10-day waiting period after the July 21 Concom vote, during which no appeal of the decision was filed.

Following the vote, YourArlington asked Cori Beckwith, Concom administrator, to explain what the waiting period means, but she referred the question to Joan Roman, the town webmaster, who responds to questions from the town manager's office. Roman did not respond.

YourArlington also asked David Loh, among those protesting the removal dawn redwoods this summer, whether an appeal was planned. He did not respond to that question.

Further, Park and Rec Commission Jen Rothenberg has not responded to a request for comment.

The vote follows a more than two-hour hearing July 14, during which all sides had a say.

For two members of the Park and Recreation Commission, the process to improve the East Arlington park has been thorough and fully involved the community: four open meetings and as many as nine others over six months, commissioners Rothenberg and Lesley Mayer told the Conservation Commission.

In June, neighbors objected to a plan to cut the 80-foot tree planted in the mid-1980s and launched an online petition. At the commission's July 14 hearing, as many as 25 showed up to defend the tree and cast doubt on a plan to upgrade 3-decade-old community garden.

At the end of two hours of testimony, the commission voted unanimously to continue discussing whether to approve cutting down four trees to give the larger garden more sunlight on July 21.

As some trees come down, and many others are planted, the new recreation area at Magnolia Park is to take shape.


Aug. 17, 2016: Magnolia Park horizon shifts: Redwoods fall, 39 trees to be planted

July 22, 2016: Concom supports Magnolia Park plan to remove two redwoods
Globe, July 23, 2016: Arlington group loses battle to save redwoods
Globe, July 20, 2016: Should redwood trees be cut down for a community garden?
July 16, 2016: Magnolia plan: Expand garden, save trees? Concom vote expected
Preliminary plans by Hedlund Design Group of Arlington
Opinion: 3 neighbors support redwoods

This news announcement was published Monday, June 12, 2017, and updated June 17.

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