Selectmen Pass New Tree Policy, Consider New Lexington Water Agreement

By Jeffrey Epstein

The Selectmen, as expected, approved a new municipal tree policy for the town at their June 11 meeting and also considered a new water agreement with the Town of Lexington. The water agreement was not finalized, pending final review by both towns.

The new tree policy, approved unanimously by the four voting Selectmen (Selectman Caroline Fedele was not present) is a joint product of the Bedford Arbor Resources Committee (BARC) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) and has been developed over the past several weeks. It codifies some policies that the town has used for years and clarifies the rules for how public trees are maintained and replaced if needed. The new policy provides guidelines for mitigation — ensuring that a lost tree is replaced either on the site or somewhere else. The actual rules will be determined by the Tree Warden.

“This is a good thing for the town,” BARC chair Jacqueline Edwards said after the vote. Noting that a  new policy cannot on its own provide direct funds for mitigation, she said such a town mitigation fund would be useful, and BARC will pursue that toward the next Annual Town Meeting.

The water agreement between Bedford and Lexington would replace and update an existing agreement made in 1993. It allowed Bedford to buy water from Lexington, which had a direct connection to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority water supply, and thereby avoid having Bedford build its own pipe to the reservoir. Water is served to Bedford today at three different locations, and an issue with any one of them would not hamper overall water flow, according to DPW.

Still, Bedford is itself a full member in the MWRA and does not necessarily have to be reliant on Lexington for its water. The new agreement contains some updated technical language, said Director of Public Works David Manugian, as the DPW has become more savvy about monitoring both water quality and water pressure.

The Selectmen also asked what would happen if one or both towns decide in the future to not continue the relationship.  In that case, the agreement’s final language is expected to include a provision for at least five years of notice Manugian explained.

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