Historic Roots May Be Torn Up

           A big old tree in Westport is getting in the way of putting in a sidewalk, and it may have to be chopped down. The tree is somewhere around 200-years old and while some residents are fighting to keep it's roots intact, nearby businesses say it's a safety hazard.

           If you drive on Main Road in Westport you're likely to see people walking, but there's no sidewalk for them to walk on.  The town is planning to put one in but they've run into a very big problem. A linden tree believed to be 200-years old has deep roots where the sidewalk is supposed to go.

           The tree has caused a controversy that long time resident Norma Judson says is rooted in the community's history.

          “To kill a beautiful massive living thing is unconscionable,” says Judson.

           Talk of putting in a sidewalk started in 2005 when Westport started the Central Village Public Improvement Committee. One of it's members, Elaine Ostroff, says at first everyone seemed to be in favor of the sidewalks, even if it meant tearing up the tree.

           “We didn't really have a choice because the sidewalks were important to the community,” said Ostroff.

             After people came forward expressing their concerns for the trees importance, Ostroff looked at other ways to get around the tree, and still ran into some issues. If the sidewalk was to go on street side of the tree the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said the concrete would kill it's roots and it's roots would ruin the sidewalk. So, the committee thought why not put the sidewalk on the other side of the tree. Well, businesses thought having a sidewalk that close to their parking lot could be a safety hazard.

            Ostroff says, “they felt it would be dangerous for pedestrians or a liability for them.”

            Dentist David Ahearn has an office behind the tree, he says he's more concerned about people's safety.

           “It gets in the way of people being able to have a sidewalk. Everyday we see people crossing through the parking lot walking down an icy slope into our street because they can't walk from one end of our village to another,” says Ahearn.

           Even with the safety concerns, Judson says there has to another alternative to have the sidewalk and the tree on Main Road. Judson doesn't want to give up.

           “I cant just sit by and say bye bye,” says Judson.

            The committee will meet tomorrow morning to decide the trees fate.

            Ostroff says, “We want to get back together and say lets think hard maybe we deal with a little less sidewalk but we can save the tree.”