Yellow ribbons mark the trees that will be removed along State Park Road as part of the Town Link Trail project. Photo by Cameron Bremner. 

Eleven trees along State Park Road in Charlotte stand in the way of the projected route of the Town Link Trail, a key project of the Charlotte Trails Committee.

Last Thursday, October 24, Charlotte Tree Warden Mark Dillenbeck held a public hearing at Town Hall to address the removal of these trees. “Whenever we have living non-diseased trees that need to be removed, I’m required to hold a public hearing,” Dillenbeck explained at the opening of the meeting.

The Town Link Trail currently runs from Common Way to the west end of State Park Road. The Trails Committee, with a goal to establish a network of public trails in Charlotte, is working to extend the trail along the north side of State Park Road to reach Mt. Philo State Park.

Committee Chair Laurie Thompson explained during the hearing on Thursday that “the route of the trail was chosen in the interest of avoiding the wetlands in the area and affecting as few trees as possible.”

During the hearing, Dillenbeck discussed whether any of the trees in question should be classified as “significant.” In general, a tree must be alive, healthy, attractive and not damaged in order to gain this status, he said.

After sharing more information about the condition of the 11 trees—which includes four sugar maples, three elms, two boxwoods, one shagbark hickory and one black cherry—Dillenbeck said he determined that none of them met these criteria. He authorized their removal, allowing the Trails Committee to continue with its project.

The hearing drew few attendees. Town Road Commissioner Junior Lewis was on hand along with John Limanek, a Trails Committee member.
In the works for the past 10 years or so, the Town Link Trail aims to “create a seven-mile trail stretching from Charlotte Town Beach to Mt. Philo,” Limanek said. The trail would be used for walking, biking and even cross-country skiing in colder months.

Limanek said he is optimistic about the trail’s completion now that the Trail Committee has approval to remove the State Park Road trees. The Trail Committee has yet to release a date when it will remove the trees but is working on finalizing the plans for the trail.

More information is online about the Town Link Trail at the Charlotte Trails website.

Community News Service is a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.